Aug 20, 2019 Last Updated 10:52 AM, Aug 14, 2019

VELUX has created a light-filled paradise for a retirement village in Newcastle upon Tyne

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High levels of natural light and ventilation are the hallmarks of Tree Top Village in Newcastle, a retirement village with an inspirational design that achieves its goal through the extensive use of VELUX Modular Skylights.


The award-winning ‘village’, designed by architect firm IDPartnership, is the first of its kind in the UK and is focused on delaying the onset of dementia.

A central four-storey atrium achieves high levels of daylight with a row of 60 VELUX ridgelights. Complementing this are 10 VELUX longlights that provide additional illumination in areas away from the atrium – all of which were installed by Glazing Systems & Installations, one of VELUX’s key partners.

In combination, the ridgelights and longlights help this exemplary mixed-use retirement village, managed by Your Homes Newcastle (YHN), make extensive use of natural light, which recent research shows has beneficial effects on the wellbeing and recovery rate of patients*.

The design was influenced by Dr. Hans Marcel Becker, a leading expert in the retirement industry. Meeting Dr. Hans Marcel Becker’s philosophy involved designing the atrium and rooflights to create a “contemporary hotel feel”, encouraging residents to actively engage and participate and ensuring each apartment overlooks the main thoroughfare, reinforcing the community feel.

Tree Top Village provides 111 high-quality, affordable accommodation units exclusively for the over 55s or people with an assessed medical need. The facility is unique in that it opens up its community and retail facilities to the public, accentuating the ‘village’ atmosphere and offers:

• 75 one- and two-bedroom apartments
• 36 one- and two-bedroom homes and eight bungalows
• Four retail units
• A multi-purpose room for GPs and other medical professionals
• One reminiscence museum containing familiar household and consumer objects.
The museum will be used to help trigger memories for Dementia and Alzheimer’s sufferers. It also acts as a ‘conversation piece’, providing a focal point for celebrating local history and culture.

The challenge

The VELUX Modular Skylights team worked with Wates Construction to value engineer the original curtain walling design envisaged for the rooflights. VELUX presented the benefits of its self-supporting ridgelights for the central atrium, which comprised two rows of skylights that add natural light, ventilation and openness to the areas below.

Being self-supporting meant that the ridgelights eliminated the need for the steel sub-frame support system. The VELUX rooflight solution also achieved the European standard for smoke and heat exhaust ventilators EN 12101-2.

Following an evaluation of the proposal, the project partners felt that VELUX ridgelights offered a superior aesthetic outcome compared to the curtain walling. This was because the parallel lines of the ridgelights that run along the orientation of the central atrium create a sense of symmetry. Aside from that, avoiding the need for a steel subframe proved to be a more cost-effective solution and sped up installation.

The solution

Working with the design team at VELUX Modular Skylights, Wates' contractors selected a combination of VELUX rooflights, comprising:


43no. W = 1000 x H = 2000mm fixed
17no. W = 1000 x H = 2000mm smoke vents.

The VELUX ridgelights are suitable for configurations with a pitch of 25 to 40°.

Stepped wall-mounted longlights

5no. W = 1000 x H = 1800mm fixed
5no. W = 1000 x H = 1800mm smoke vents.

VELUX Longlights are suitable for configurations with a pitch of between 5 and 40°. They are mounted against a vertical wall, and this provided new design possibilities because it meant their position was not limited to traditional rooflight locations. At Tree Top Village, it enabled them to be strategically positioned to maximise daylight in all areas of the facility, not just the central atrium.

Off-site benefits

VELUX ridgelights and longlights offer all the off-site benefits of being fully prefabricated in a factory-controlled environment. This ensures that they fit right, first time on site – and can be up to three times faster than a traditional installation. The modules simply click into place in minutes, minimising time spent on the roof and ensuring a watertight seal is achieved quicker. Superior sightlines including slim frames, and maximum glazed areas continue the modern design theme throughout the development.


Tree Top Village was awarded the ‘Outstanding Development of the Year’ accolade in 2017 by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) North East. The scheme was also a finalist at the 2017 Inside Housing Development Awards in the category for ‘Best Older People’s Housing Development (Over 100 Homes)’.

The development was shortlisted for the national RTPI Awards 2018 in the ‘Excellence in Planning for Health and Wellbeing’ category.

All of the properties at Tree Top achieve Lifetime Homes standards, allowing them to be more easily adapted to meet residents’ needs as their circumstances change and they grow older. The phase one development achieved BREEAM ‘Very Good’ accreditation, whilst phase two meets the requirements of the Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3.

*A study by Choi published in 2012 showed that the average length of stay by patients in hospitals was shorter in the areas of brighter daylight by between 16 to 41%


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