Month: October 2018

Audley celebrates completion of Ellerslie Retirement Village phase II!

At an opening attended by more than 100 guests, Audley Ellerslie Phase II has officially opened its doors. Audley owners, Gaunt Francis project architects, the design team, and members of the local community came together to celebrate this key milestone with a champagne reception and lunch.


Set against the backdrop of the Worcestershire countryside, Ellerslie Retirement Village is situated in the beautiful spa town of Malvern. Construction of Ellerslie phase II began in May 2016 and comprises 101 retirement properties. Three restored Victorian mansions, including a Grade II listed building, form the centrepiece of the village, complemented by a restored Lodge and a group of sympathetically designed and carefully placed new-build properties.


The village is home to a mix of one and two bedroom apartments and offers luxury facilities including a health club, library, and restaurant, which will be accessible to both owners and the local community.


Gaunt Francis Director, Gavin Birt, expressed “We are privileged to have been given the opportunity to design and deliver another care community for the Audley Group. The village has been conceived as a series of substantial villas. These have varying styles and utilise different materials but form a cohesive whole around the jewel of Lind House – all taking advantage of the wonderful views of the Vale of Evesham from the base of the magnificent Malvern hills”.

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Ellerslie Phase I was completed last June, which consisted of 17 apartments and one cottage, all complementing the original Victorian architecture.


Pushing the Boundaries of VR

Virtual reality is developing rapidly and has found many uses in all kinds of fields. We have always embraced new technology at Gaunt Francis Architects, so we have invested in VR technology to create engaging and interactive architectural visualisation experiences and to ensure we remain at the forefront of innovation, whilst at the same time recognising there is value in the plurality of design tools at our disposal.

Although the tools of architectural communication have constantly evolved, recent technological change has allowed the rapid development of 3D building modelling. The promise of “Virtual Reality” as an architectural design tool has been lingering for several decades, perhaps more as science fiction than fact, but it is actually the popularity of gaming that has driven software and hardware development forward to the point that the systems are now genuinely interactive and immersive.

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The development of Virtual Reality, or VR, therefore presents a unique opportunity for Architects. It opens up a completely new way of designing, whereby Architects can experience spaces they are designing as they would be experienced by the end users, as well as being able to make changes and test ideas in near real time – something that simply can’t be done on traditional desktop software. It is one thing to have a physical 3D model on your desk, or a digital model on your screen, but to be able to experience it at a real world scale, walk through it, fly like a drone or even change the time of day, enables designers to get to grips with the impact of their design decisions on the end user’s experience of the building. To be able to sketch something by hand or to test massing with a physical model are still important ways of working – VR doesn’t replace them – but rather stands firmly alongside.

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Perhaps the most interesting possibility of VR is that it presents an entirely new way of communicating with our clients and other collaborators. One of the greatest challenges for Architects has always been communicating their designs to others. For the first time, a building’s end user can truly experience what it will be like to be in the spaces before they are built. It puts the end user on a level playing field with the professional team in terms of understanding and interpreting design intentions. Without VR, there are always ideas that are lost in translation purely because of the difficulties in representing a building in 2D. With VR, there is no translation needed – the client or end user is experiencing the building as it will be.

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We believe using Virtual Reality Technology as a design aid is where architectural design will be heading in the very near future, and it is important for the team at Gaunt Francis Architects to be pioneers in the field. As the development of this innovative technology moves towards stable 4K and 8K resolutions, Virtual Reality is expected to become an essential component in the design process and commonplace in architectural practices. Science fiction no longer.

Special thanks to COPA Cyrmu for helping us create such an incredible video!