The Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) epitomises Fira’s core values, creating a landscape environment that is responsive, restores and revives.

This state-of-the-art Ministry of Defence clinical rehabilitation facility provides expert care and support for wounded, injured and sick Armed Forces personnel. Based at Stanford Hall the £300m clinical rehabilitation facilities replaced Headley Court, and the new hospital is carefully integrated within the registered parkland of the historic estate. The sensitive nature of the location created many challenges but also offered an outstanding opportunity to capitalise on the parkland’s naturally restorative setting as a mechanism for enhancing the rehabilitation process.

Working in close collaboration with clinicians, we developed a range of more formal therapy gardens including a specialist prosthetics courtyard with a range of everyday obstacles to test new limbs and help patients to manage their physical rehabilitation. Further gardens were developed for the rehabilitation of spine and head injuries.

The positive mental health benefits of close interaction with nature were a key driver for the design, with a specific restorative mental health garden created, incorporating the Japanese principles of Wabi-Sabi and the existing historic greenhouses refurbished, with areas included for horticultural therapy. Based on their experience of rehabilitation, the MoD requested that opportunities for competitive sport and vigorous activity were created so formal sports pitches were provided close to the new buildings, with trails and cycle tracks utilising the wider site to encourage patients and staff to venture further into the parkland.

A carefully considered approach to the wider site planting was taken that augmented native planting to create a sympathetic and naturalistic setting for the new complex. This habitat creation enhanced the biodiversity of the site bringing wildlife close to the buildings whilst respecting the character of the historic parkland.


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