The Davenport Homes Patron’s Award
Davenport Homes was set up by Frank R Davenport in 1935. Originally for women in domestic service, such as maids, cooks and housekeepers who found it very difficult to find somewhere suitable to live upon retirement as they had been provided with accommodation as part of their job. Mr Davenport bought land in Solihull, erected 20 cottages and left assets to provide an income for the charity. Permission was sought from the Charity Commission to widen the objects of the charity and the charity can now appoint couples and single men who qualify.
Trustees were keen to replicate the best of the design elements of the original cottages, retain a traditional almshouse quadrangle format and also incorporate the highest standard of modern facilities. A feasibility study was undertaken to provide 12 one bedroom cottages, to include landscaping, car parking and improved access to the site. Trustees wanted to provide a community room which would open on to gardens to give a focal point for socialisation and have all front doors open into the quadrangle, again encouraging social interaction.
The new bungalows are bright and airy with very high windows and patio doors leading out to a garden area. Rooms are spacious and light with much thought going into the fixtures and fittings provided by the charity, especially in the kitchens. Each unit has a double bedroom, lounge/ dining room, kitchen, store room and wet rooms. All walls, floors and ceilings were installed to a higher standard than required by building regulations. The bungalows are wheelchair accessible, each with low level window sills for easy viewing from chairs, appropriately located electrical sockets and switches. Natural ventilation is provided and solar gain will be reduced through the introduction of landscaping to provide shading in order to limit the potential for overheating. The construction materials are from sustainable sources.
The existing Almshouse arrangement creates lovely landscaped quadrangles and this characteristic has been adopted influencing the placement of the new cottages and helping to anchor the new development.