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Invisible Wounds: Transition Centre and Gardens for Wounded War Veterans, Lichfield

Part 2 Project 2013
Charles Kennett
De Montfort University, UK
The recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have dramatically increased the number of veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – the forgotten causalities of war. An estimated 20% of veterans carry an invisible wound. Located in Lichfield, home of the former Staffordshire Regiment of the British Army, the Angel Croft Hotel, a Grade II listed Georgian House, has been left derelict for more than 10 years.
Disregarded, forgotten and silently decaying, the house can be seen as a metaphor for our veterans. The proposal seeks to re-establish a place in society and form a relationship with the city and gardens.
The proposal aims to help integrate psychologically wounded war veterans back into social life of the city through horticultural therapy. The building has been designed around a series of walled gardens each offering a different sense of place, with the existing house serving as residential accommodation. Veterans will be involved in all phases of gardening- from propagation to selling products. This will provide support to our wounded veterans on their return to civilian life as well as promote local food production.
The site is situated on the edge of the traditional Bower route, flanked by Darwin House and the spires of Lichfield Cathedral to the East and the tranquillity and serenity of Beacon Park to the West. The design has been largely driven by the constraints of the existing site that required an uninterrupted view from Darwin House towards the park.
Veterans are neither secluded nor isolated in a fixed boundary wall but are able to move freely between the centre, city and gardens. The spaces seek to encourage a social interaction between the veterans and the city, concealing and revealing in places to reduce stigma and raise public awareness, eliminating the barrier to veteran mental healthcare. The produce grown in the garden, such as vegetables and seasonal flowers will be sold to local residents, restaurants and businesses from the onsite shop run by the veterans. The produce will also be used within the kitchen encouraging the centre to be self- sustainable.

Charles Kennett


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