The Rings, designed by Fife-based husband and wife team, Firm of M C Henderson, aims to give groups of up to 16 people with disabled members the facilities they need for a comfortable trip away together.
Welcoming families and organisations such as schools, youth clubs and support groups, the bespoke building offers residential breaks with a range of features including wheelchair turning circles, wide corridors and doors, tracking hoists that take guests between the bedroom and bathroom, a height adjustable profile bed and countertops, safe-step flooring and pull down clothes rails.
Inspired by personal experience, the Henderson’s decided to transform a portion of their 90 acre farm to cater for disabled people in the tourism sector.
Moira Henderson, co-owner of The Rings – who has also written a book on the project’s journey – commented: “It’s been a long road, but we’re immensely proud of what we’ve achieved at The Rings. At its best, architecture is about creating spaces that complement the needs of the resident.
“Inclusion is at the heart of what we do, and it’s been very rewarding to see diverse groups enjoy time away together without having to worry about accommodation suitability.”
Designed by Edinburgh architects Chambers McMillan and built by Bissett Design and Build, the building comprises of eight bedrooms with en-suite wet rooms.
Two of the bedrooms double as self-contained studio apartments and two living areas with kitchens can be separated by a retractable dividing wall – allowing multiple groups to stay simultaneously or as one large group.
Bank of Scotland tailored a £335k financing package to allow construction and start-up costs.
The project was launched by Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing MSP in August 2014 with support from Visit Scotland.
The Rings is also being used as a case study for accessible tourism by Visit Scotland and the Scottish Government in Europe, and was the impetus for the foundation of Accessible Tourism Fife.
Andrew Mcphail, relationship manager at Bank of Scotland, said: “We saw The Rings as an excellent opportunity to support a farm enterprise that’s using its existing resources – alongside the skills and experience of its owners – to diversify.
“Tourism is one of the most important sectors for the economy, and we have a responsibility to make sure that everyone can enjoy what Scotland has to offer.”
Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing added: “Tourism is one of Scotland’s most important industries to the Scottish economy and is crucial in our remote and rural areas.
“With accessible tourism worth about £1.5 billion every year, improving provision for people with disabilities has real potential to help achieve tourism industry growth ambitions and boost the rural economy as well as enhancing social equalities.
“That is why I am pleased the Scottish Government has been able to support this project through funding from the Scottish Rural Development Programme.”