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The AFL team puts children and families at heart of the Rainbow CDU Hub

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Whenever AFL sits down at the beginning of a project and thinks about the design of a building, it is always with the end customer at the heart of the design – how they will use the building, how to make it as inclusive and accessible for all, and what will make the end customer want to visit and use the building.

This was never more top of mind with the new Children Development Unit (CDU) Rainbow Hub for AFL’s long-standing client, the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust. Having relocated their CDU to a new location, the Clock House in Elland, Huddersfield, the AFL team was appointed as Lead Designer, working with the Trust team to develop the designs from Stage 1 high level feasibility to a successful delivery with the opening of the facility in April 2023.

The scope and layout of the CDU was developed with key stakeholders including the Trust’s estate teams, clinicians and engaging the ultimate client – the children and the families that were to use the unit. The facility includes a two-story building that accommodates on the ground floor consultation rooms for families and children, a waiting area with multi-sensory interactive area for the children to play, a sensory room, a hideaway room and quiet rooms, breastfeeding spaces as well as bathroom facilities for those using reclining wheelchairs. The hub also includes an upstairs for those working both at the CDU as well as a base for those out in the community, split into hot desking areas, meeting rooms and hub rooms where staff can take Teams and confidential calls.

With families and children in mind, safety and practicality were paramount with varying heights for different clients, child friendly furniture and equipment and colour schemes that brought engagement for the children but also were considerate of those who found bright colours stressful or jarring.

Working within AFL sustainability and social value guidelines, where possible, local materials and contractors were used including a local artist who provided bespoke, nature-inspired digital wall graphics within the reception and playroom areas. Recycling bins were integrated into areas to encourage reuse, reduce and recycle and sustainable materials specified, wherever possible.

The feedback has been amazing:

Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust Chief Executive, Brendan Brown welcoming guests on opening day: It is a delight to see a state-of-the-art Child development facility, and working with AFL architects has been an enjoyable experience.”

“The build and design looks amazing, and it was great to see AFL architects take the time to works closely with the doctors, other medical professional colleagues, and patients and families of the different facilities to deliver a great scheme.” Rob Hawkins, Wheelchair Rugby League Player for England RL and Halifax Panthers and former patient.

Trust’s Director of Transformation and deputy CEO, Anna Basford, said: It’s a truly amazing healthcare facility for our younger patients and their families and we are very proud of it. Fantastic.”

Mum Joanne Greenwood: Coming here for care now is fun. Moving away from the hospital site makes it less stressful, less hectic.”

Patient Andrew Greenwood, who was part of the design team from the start: “It has evolved with the times and to see it come to life is ace. The technology is awesome.”

Senior nurse/clinical manager, Katie Booth: From the start all we (the staff including nurses, playtherapists, physios) wanted was the very best facility for our families and we’ve got it. We are all very proud and love our new Rainbow Community Hub.”

"People centric design is never as important as within a community setting, especially when dealing with a healthcare facility. Visitors need to feel comfortable, at ease and the space needs to accommodate different needs for varying clients. Working with the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust we feel proud to have achieved this first in class facility."
Neil Peak, lead designer for AFL Architects

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