Orchard House Introduction
Rosa was initially over-whelmed by the beauty of the Sussex countryside. It seemed, she says, "too gorgeous". "You can't help but be struck by the complete difference between the brick red gabled Victorian house and this very rounded calm looking building. Like a pavilion, it has this big sense of inside and outside which I found so interesting and ties in with this feeling I had of the institution being at one level very open and friendly and yet very unknowable". Orchard House is home to 35 residents with complex learning difficulties and is managed by 20 or more staff who are devoted to their charges. Founded on the educational philosophy propounded by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), the community has striven to provide their residents with the best opportunities for all-round personal development and education. "I noticed that there was no reception or gate as you pass through. This means it's all very open but also that there's no point where you're really inside because it's like a pavilion and like a gorgeous shed and so much of the landscape comes through the windows. That said, it's very enclosed due to the careful acoustics". The new building, designed by architects Nicholas Pople and Andrew Beard, is used for musical performances by both residents and incomers and can accommodate a seated audience of 80. "It houses ritual moments relating to the community and also is where they take part in their eurythmy classes. I found this interplay between the sacred and the everyday very appealing. My work is about the way architecture influences social and political narrative and so I talked to the management, teachers, architects, contractors, carers, residents, and the more I found out about the building the more I realised that it's based on two interlocking pentagons which is related to Steiner's philosophical geometry about the five senses. Hence the structure of the five pieces I wrote. I was specifically interested in doing this project for digital publication as I was trying to open my writing to question, for it to have an elusive, open-ended quality so the reader would have some role in finding their way around it. In a way, this echoes the sensual aspect of the building, which wants to engage the visitor in every sense".