Sense TouchBase Pears Centre is located along the Bristol Road, in Selly Oak Birmingham, between the busy road and the more tranquil Grand Union canal. A series of public spaces are located between the Centre and the road with a café terrace to the north and a widened walkway with seats leading to the main entrance.
The café terrace is protected by architectural garden walls projecting from the building to each side which help restrict views and noise from traffic Each wall supports attractive and scented wall climbers and the sloping garden contains ornamental grasses, evergreen plants, bulbs and ground cover roses.
A gate through the eastern garden wall leads to a series of gardens. These gardens open out to each other and a way finding paths leads the visitor and user from place to place, along the building. Each garden relates to the separate parts of the building with doors and views out. The type of garden is related to its adjacent room and there is a café garden, a performance garden for outdoor events and a sensory / productive garden for growing and tending plants. Each garden is set against the backdrop of the existing trees on the canal bank. This setting appears to be a visual extension of the gardens and using a ‘borrowed’ landscape character helps give a mature feel to the gardens as well as long views out of the building. The gardens are to be designed by the Sense community and are intended to be sensory with planting for colour, aroma and perfume from the rich variety of plants. The productive garden will include a the herb garden with raised planters forming the kitchen garden. The boxes are set at different heights suitable for and including a wide range of gardeners, either sitting down or standing up including
children, wheelchair users and adults. All sorts of plants can be grown- vegetables, salads, fruit, herbs and flowers. Next to this productive area is space for a large table for preparation, sitting, outdoor eating or group teaching.
The final part of the gardens is a large meadow lawn area for play and a variety of outdoor events and uses.
Architect: Glenn Howells Architects