Building better spaces for people with autism one colour at a time

A new residential and educational unit opened by sector-leading service provider, Welsh firm Orbis Education and Care, has used colour coding in its design to reduce anxiety levels and complement the support it provides for autistic pupils.

Orbis Abbey Rose in Tewkesbury is now open following extensive refurbishment work from The IAD Company, which is based in Cardiff and has designed its interior to help reduce behavioural issues and anxiety for users across the board.

Leading the way on all aspects of its interior transformation, IAD Company subsequently made the site’s school and residential buildings more manageable for its pupils and residents through simplifying the layout with colour coded walls and skirting boards, clearly separating out one area from the next.

Rebecca Lewis-Chapman, Director at IAD Company, explained: “One of the challenges we faced was how to use colour to create low-arousal environments throughout a large building with corridors and lots of rooms.

“This was a primary concern given the complex needs of the children whose anxieties can be amplified as a result of environmental triggers. So, addressing this issue was a must. Now, the site is really easy to navigate, with dedicated colour-coded zones, which has ultimately made it a much more comfortable place to be.”

Closed by its former owners Cambian Group in April 2018, Wales-based Orbis Education and Care purchased and remodelled the site, reducing its residential capacity from 42 to 30 rooms, and increasing its learning space to 10 classrooms for children with complex needs associated with autism.

The IAD Company has also worked on differentiating between the residential and school environments to make it easier for pupils to separate their learning spaces from their living areas, and in turn gain a sense of control, structure and a clear understanding of their surroundings and their specific functions.

Co-ordinated window dressings, furniture fabrics and art work have also been selected by IAD Company to support this innovative style of wayfinding, with initial feedback from Orbis staff proving hugely positive so far.

Mike Currier, CEO at Orbis Education and Care, said: “This simple yet highly effective design solution is just one of the many reasons that Orbis Education and Care have sought to engage with The IAD Company in the ongoing redevelopment of its services time and again. Children with autism often need a structured environment to help keep their anxieties low. When such needs are addressed, education itself is more successful.

“We are delighted to see at long last this facility being put to use by learners in the way that Orbis Education and Care intended when we acquired the site in the first place – a vision once again made reality through the ingenious design skills of Rebecca and her team at The IAD Company.”

The IAD Company has been active in the construction industry for over a decade and is an experienced provider of architectural and interior design solutions in a range of both commercial and domestic settings.

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