Principal in BDP’s Manchester officer, Ged Couser, presented at “Healthy Cities” on some of the latest thinking in hospital design, and how one hospital trust’s ambition on taking a clean sheet approach: ‘Alder Hey in Liverpool was a nice Victorian hospital that got buried over the last 100 years by additions that happened in a very ad-hoc way, which is not unique across England’.
'The Hospital Trust did a very clever deal with the City, which got community buy-in. The hospital was next to the public Springfield Park, part of Liverpool’s chain of historic parks which it is famous for. The city gave half of the park to the hospital on the agreement that once the new hospital was built, the old estate would be demolished, with a new park reinstated but turned through 180 degrees, and given back to the local community.
'The community lost half of its park for five years but what it got back was very much better. It is much improved, with places to grow things, better spaces to play, and it links the community more effectively. Alder Hey is also adding a new research building, a community rehabilitation centre and also some housing which will bring capital receipts back to the trust.
'The key to the design is how it connects to the landscape. The ward “fingers” stretch out into the park and this allows patients and their families to get out into green spaces very easily. Integration of landscape, building and art has been crucial to the success of the design. We work closely with artist Lucy Casson, whose graphics and patterns have been woven into the glass balusters of the staircases, and into other areas'.
Ged adds: ‘We wanted the new hospital to be as stress free as possible, noting that it can be super stressful to be in hospital with a sick child. The atrium space ties it all together – it is a place to eat in, to wait, it is occupied by the main reception, and it has room for The Roost sculpture, while a tree house sits at the end. We asked the excellent patient group what they wanted and they said: “a tree house”, so we provided one, clad in Western Red Cedar – it also delivers space for staff break-out sessions, and a spiritual sanctuary for all faiths, which is very well used’.
Ged’s team at BDP wanted the building to be as eco-friendly as possible, and 60% of hospital energy is generated on site. It has up to ten types of grasses and plants growing on green roofs, ground source heat pumps, and photo-voltaic panels. All the ward “fingers” have external spongey play decks made of recycled Nike trainers. They allow everyone to play outside while remaining close to medical staff.
The NHS Trust has created aquaponic facilities at end of each ward for the kitchen gardens, which allow patients to pick vegetables and herbs and then them to the chef to have it cooked at the ward kitchen. The Trust is keen to teach the young children about healthy living as many come from underprivileged backgrounds.