Child & Adolescent Psychiatric Unit, Bessboro, Cork

Eist Linn is a child-centred, 20 bed Psychiatric Unit and School for children and young people with mental health issues, commissioned by the HSE (Health Centre Executive). Children are offered a place out of their normal environment to allow them to receive counselling, treatment and help for their problems. They may need to be in the unit for a few weeks or a couple of months, so the Unit provides therapy suites, consultation spaces, treatment rooms and an intensive care unit. The facilities are based around a south facing kitchen for children to share food prepared in the centre, as well as recreation rooms and social spaces. There is also a small school to maintain educational skills on a one-to one basis, and a gym, life skills areas and visitors rooms. Staff to patient ratio is high. The entire complex is based around a south facing garden.

An old hospital and chapel from the 1920s facing each other across a yard had to be maintained as a condition of site acquisition. The challenge was to take a healthcare brief and, using these institutional buildings, break them open to create a place which felt like a generous house, where children and young people could feel they were at home.

By engulfing the older buildings with new geometries, we sought to change their nature, reversing patterns of use and expectation. A new arrival space was made on the north side, opening into a sweep of new rooms centred around nature, and a strong canopy linking buildings across the garden. Materials were selected to give a warm, domestic quality, using pre-silvered Siberian larch cladding, profiled zinc rooflights and large areas of glazing to bring light deep into the plans.

  • Address: Bessboro, Cork
  • Client: HSE Southern Region
  • Civil & Structural Engineers: Arup
  • M&E Engineers: Building Design Partnership
  • Quantity Surveyors: Boyd Creed Sweet
  • Landscape Architects: Mitchell & Associates
  • Contractors: Pierse Contracting
  • Awards: 
    • 2011 RIAI Awards - Best Health Building - Winner
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