We were approached by a representative of the National Trust as they were looking for a way for less-able visitors to access the lower level of the shop at Sissinghurst Castle Garden. Sissinghurst Castle Garden was bought by the writer Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson in 1930, with various buildings around the site dating back to the 1530s. Sackville-West and Nicolson restored many of the buildings and designed the layout and style of the now famous gardens. It is one of the National Trust's most visited sites and one of the world's most well known gardens. Due to their cultural significance and high quality the gardens are Grade I listed along with the main Sissinghurst Castle building.
The site of the lift is in the modern day shop which used to be the Old Piggery attached to the granary. The particular challenges of creating disabled access in the shop were that a ramp would have to be over 4.5 metres long plus a 1.5 metre clear space at the bottom of the ramp in order to accommodate the difference between floor levels. This wasn't feasible as the total width of the lower floor was under 4 metres. A traditional platform lift would take up at least 1400mm x 1100mm of retail space and then a 900mm door on both levels would impact the retail space even further. This would have disrupted both the till area and lower level of the shop. Even though it was feasible the disruption and the space that the lift would take up would damage the retail space for the shop.
The best solution was to have a hidden platform lift by the steps in the middle of the shop that wouldn't need any gates. The lift would provide the necessary disabled access but when not in use it would be completely flat matching the surrounding quarry tile floor. The way the lift recedes into the ground allows users to get onto the lift from both sides of the shop and allows the shop staff to have a seasonal table close to the lift as seen in the photos below. When not in use the lift can be walked on and becomes part of the floor.
To see more examples hidden lifts like the one at Sissinghurst Castle Garden click on the following links:
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Year Completed: 2019