Ballymote Community Nursing Unit is a single storey pitched roof building on a constrained site next to Ballymote Castle. The CNU is owned by the Health Service Executive and run on their behalf by Nazareth House, providing short and long term care to 30 residents, some of whom suffer with dementia.

The brief for the project was to reduce the number of multi-occupancy rooms without reducing available beds; increase and provide varied social spaces; and to generally enhance the quality of internal spaces. The design solution was to extend the building in two areas, along with substantial internal reorganisation.

The main extension, to the rear, provides ten single en-suite bedrooms in a pitched roof structure which responds to the modest scale and traditional form of the original building. It opens up views of the surrounding parkland where possible and introduces natural light by way of rooflights which are dramatically coffered to give a sense of scale.

A flat roof area connects the existing building with the new residential wing. This contains a new servery and dining room with a clerestory window providing light along the length of the room.

The existing oratory, which had doubled as a social space, was converted into four bedrooms – two single rooms and two twin rooms.

An extension to the front provides a larger, brighter sitting room and reflection room, which can be sub-divided for smaller gatherings. A new entrance lobby with canopy completes the extension.

The material palette aims to create a domestic ambience as most residents are long-term. Rather than contrast, the exterior of the extensions seek to harmonise and enhance the existing building. Internally, a simple palette was chosen to create a light, restful environment – handrails, fitted furniture and doors to common areas and individual bedrooms are natural white oak, while doors to service and staff areas are light grey or white so they sit into the background. In resident bedrooms, doors to en-suites are coloured green to aid with wayfinding. At day rooms, raised planters are provided at seating level so, in warmer months, residents can assist in their upkeep, even with mobility restrictions.

A scheme to upgrade the remainder of the unit has been developed and once funding is secured, it is envisaged that it will be brought to the level of the new areas, continuing the same palette of materials and colours.