When the producers of the BBC’s flagship DIY SOS show embarked on their biggest ever design challenge the choice of architect was simple.
For the first time in the programme’s history, their ambitious brief was to completely demolish and replace the dilapidated Kent home of a family facing an incredible struggle. With three severely disabled children, the Ratcliffe family were finding it increasingly difficult to cope with a home that was unsuitable, cramped and dark.
The DIY/SOS team turned to Clague and over the coming weeks we designed a home that was to transform the lives of the Ratcliffes and deliver one of the most memorable ‘builds’ in the show’s history. From talking doors to a remote controlled toilet and winches to take the severely disabled young residents from bathroom to bed, this was never going to be an ordinary design challenge.
Tim, 36, said:
“Garry and Kyle Ratcliffe lived in a dilapidated bungalow on the Isle of Sheppey with their four children Haydn, Curtis, Isobella and Chloe aged 4 to 12. Three of the children had complex medical conditions and both boys are wheelchair bound. The old bungalow was completely unsuitable and far too small. It was poorly constructed and badly laid out. It had only three bedrooms, with a porch used as a fourth bedroom. The only bathroom in the house was accessed through the kitchen and it was becoming increasingly unsuitable for the family’s needs. It was not a home; it was more like a temporary shelter. We explored options to extend and alter the house, but it quickly became apparent that something more radical was required. In early 2016 we started work on a replacement dwelling.”
“This would become the most ambitious build that DIYSOS had attempted and the first time they had ever built a new house. The aspiration of everyone involved was to create an exemplar family home. This was a house for disabled children, but first and foremost it was to be a home for a unique family. While it houses specialist equipment and is perfectly suited to wheelchair users, it does not look like a medical institution – it has become a home that everyone aspires to live in. The design for the house was built up around some simple principles that have developed over a number of projects. The family can sit around a large dining table and eat together looking out over the ample garden. The kitchen is designed so that everyone can prepare dinner – Haydn, their eldest son, enjoys cooking.”
On the day the Ratcliffes were allowed to view their new home for the first time, Garry and Kyle were overcome with emotion.
DIY/SOS The Big Build was aired on BBC One on June 8 where viewers watched the enormous team effort that went into turning our vision into reality, and is so doing see the incredible impact on the Ratcliffes’ lives.
If you missed it you can watch it on BBC iPlayer here: http://bbc.in/2s3slv0
Posted on | by Tim Wolfe-Murray