Dr Paul Buszard and his wife Gabriele, residents in the town for more than 25 years, have turned to local architects Johnson Design Partnership (JDP) to come up with a new home that allows them to live together as a family again.
The firm is working with the couple to create a two-level ‘upside down’ house in the grounds of their current property on St Mary’s Steps, which will provide full wheelchair access and dedicated living space for the family, as well as the two full-time carers they will need.
Paul, a retired lecturer from the University of Wolverhampton, says: “Our lives have been torn apart following the car accident and all we want to do now is be able to live together and welcome family and friends into our own home.”
He spent 10 months in critical trauma care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham before being transferred to the North West Spinal Injuries Unit in Southport.
“Neither of us have had any experience of living with a disability and, among the many challenges we’ve been facing, finding the right property or trying to adapt your current home have proven astoundingly difficult,” said Paul.
“Gabriele has spent the last six months searching a 40-mile radius for a place we could just buy or move into that would be suitable for our needs.
“She drew a complete blank. The only option for us is to sell our current property, sub-divide the land and then create our own home, which is where Johnson Design Partnership come into the story.”
JDP says the home will feature a low-profile sedum roof, as well as Old English bricks for the first level and stone brick walls for the lower level to ensure the family home is sympathetic to the historical buildings nearby and ensure the fantastic views can continue to be enjoyed by residents and visitors.
Paul added: “JDP director Matt Spinks and his team have spent a lot of time listening to our requirements and coming up with a design that will allow us to live as a family again and, crucially, stay in Bridgnorth – a place we have grown to love over the past 25 years and where we have raised our two daughters.”
St Mary’s Steps is the latest in a series of ‘Grand Designs’-style projects that JDP has led on and promises to be one of the most challenging yet, with the slope of the property and the historical context two major priorities.
The architects practice, which has previously been involved in the the transformation of Bishop Percy’s House and The Old Police Station in the town, has opted to use the gradient to its advantage by building into the valley, creating a two-level home that is accessible via an integrated lift that will bring Paul down to an outside terrace.
The main bedroom, wet room and communal living space will make up the first floor, which is dominated by bi-fold and French doors to preserve the panoramic views of low town and the River Severn. On the lower floor there will be accommodation for two full-time carers and guests.
“The most important aspect that came out of our briefing discussions with Paul and Gabrielle was to find the best way to adapt to his needs whilst preserving the historical context of the area,” Matt says.
“We’ve come up with a design that can achieve this by utilising locally sourced materials that will blend into the surroundings, along with a low pitch sedum roof to reduce the impact.
“Of course, it has to be Paul and Gabriele’s home, first and foremost. This is reflected in the way we intend to maximise light, shared living space and the outstanding views, with two outside terrace areas providing safe access to fresh air – which is important for his respiratory condition.
“Inside, everything has been designed to ensure accessibility and to make living as inclusive as possible, with underfloor heating and natural material, such as wooden or stone flooring, used throughout to avoid anything that could trap dust.
“We are also tapping into the knowledge of a smart home expert to look at retina and voice controls, automated doors and the possibility of hidden speakers.”
Paul adds: “It has been a horrific year, but this ‘Grand Design’ gives us an opportunity to try and put our lives back together the best way we can – together and at home in Bridgnorth.”
Planning application is currently being considered and, if successful, the project will take between six to 12 months to complete.
Shropshire Star Business and Farming Editor.