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Future Cities Forum's 'joined-up hospital, science and arts master-planning' - Part 2

Co-founder of Future Cities Forum, Heather Fearfield, facilitating the discussion with - among other contributors - seated second from right, Giles Mandelbrote, Librarian and Archivist, Lambeth Palace Library, the new library building architect, Stephen Smith, Partner, Wright & Wright Architects, and Dr Sara Hanna, Interim Chief Executive, Evelina London.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay has admitted not all the 40 new hospitals promised for England by 2030 will be brand new, according to the BBC. Mr Barclay was questioned by Laura Kuenssberg on whether refurbishment could be considered as a 'new hospital' and he replied that the pledge covered a 'range of building work' and that refurbishments and new wings were also included in the new figure. He also acknowledged that some of the hospitals originally promised would now be completed after 2030.

Future Cities Forum held a discussion this month at Lambeth Palace Library to look at new designs for hospital buildings that could meet future healthcare needs, how older hospital buildings can be repurposed and what makes for best practice in master-planning hospital and science innovation hubs.

Those contributing to this part of the discussion included Professor Tom Rodden, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Mike Standing, Head of Strategy and Architecture, Major Programmes at Deloitte LLP, Dan Pagella, Director of Development and Asset Management at ARC Group, Angela Crowther, Director Arup, Jamie Lilley, Associate, Mica Architects, Matthew Tulley, Head of Redevelopment at Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust and Kirstin Ziemer, Senior Healthcare Planner, HOK.

Jamie Lilley from MICA Architects explained the process in redeveloping the historic hospital buildings at St Thomas' Hospital in Lambeth next to Evelina London:

'When we were appointed to the St Thomas' Hospital site opposite Lambeth Palace Library and more specifically the Block 9 teaching facility, we became aware of how the design of the site was very much based on Florence Nightingale's ideas - all the courtyards giving patients of the day space and light in which to recover and how this benefitted their health. We were re-commissioned in 2019 to work on the science teaching and training areas, but a few years before there had been a covenant put in place to link Lambeth Palace Library to the Victorian tower of the hospital and the houses of Westminster beyond. That had a huge effect in design terms. We wanted to connect to the river frontage and also possibly go down several layers in the ground, so we had to be very creative with how we approached the project, particularly with the existing roof gardens and how the whole of the campus was to be opened up for use by the hospital as well.'

Jamie was asked whether it was a drawback for different architects to be allotted separate areas of the hospital site to develop and whether that led in cities to a piece meal approach and lack of connectivity?

'Talking about the approach from Lambeth Council and how they have managed to protect the area, the master-planning has come together. As architects it is important to understand the institutions involved from their core and then there is an opportunity to interpret along with looking at how viable the finance is for the work to be carried out. If you have attentive planners and a good council along with neighbours who seek to protect but challenge those designs, something good can be delivered. If you look at the Southbank area not so far away, that was very piecemeal in its outlook but the spaces in between that were left, such as what was to become the skatepark, is now much celebrated and these breathing spaces have become so important for the community.'

Along with its buildings at St Thomas’, King’s College London has ambitions to develop a new science cluster in the capital. Nestled within the iconic sightlines of the Palaces of Lambeth and Westminster, a truly world-class medical education campus is emerging within the St Thomas’ Campus. MICA (formally Rick Mather Architects) has led the design team at the St Thomas’ Education Centre. A joint venture between King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital Trust, the project draws together the leading medical Simulation and Interactive Learning centre (SaIL) with co-located and integrated facilities for medical training and ongoing professional development.

The campus fronts the River Thames and is arranged across both new and listed buildings. The project is composed of three building elements: the New Prideaux, Block 9, and Block 9 Extension. A number of key external spaces in the form of terraces and roof gardens take advantage of the unique riverside context. The scheme was approved by Lambeth’s Planning application committee in September 2016.

Since planning and listed buildings consent was granted, MICA have been developing with King’s College London schemes for the Block 9 and Block 9 Extension phases which includes a reworking of the complex Grade II Listed structures alongside new-build elements provides highly flexible, adaptable spatial configurations, with generous floor heights, raised floors and good daylighting. Meanwhile local pockets of shared space placed around key intersections, views, or places of spatial interest create an interplay between formal and informal environments.’

View from the new building of Lambeth Palace Library across to the historic buildings of St Thomas' Hospital Medical School

Angela Crowther, Director at Arup, who has been working on both the British Library site at St Pancras and at Royal Street med-tech quarter for Guy's and St Thomas' Charity was asked whether these science district developments were taking into consideration the upheaval for the local community?

'With the HS2 development on hold now at Euston and the British Library on the other side, the community at Somerstown seems to be permanently surrounded by building sites. If you think about that, it is somebody's entire childhood and we have been slow to realise this and to build relationships and to consider how we use these sites while they are under construction.'

Did Angela think that science buildings such as The Crick, in the Kings' Cross district, with its adjacent cultural attraction of The British Library, would continue to be designed as they are or would they have to become more porous for the community?

' I think that is a great question and I might relate it to my experience of library design in the Netherlands which is much more open and allow for community hubs, One of the libraries I went to in the Rotterdam was so open that the staff just accept that books are going to be borrowed and sometimes not returned but the benefits are that the community does use it and it feels free flowing. I think of the situation at Lambeth Palace Library is of course is very different with layers of security but I think as architects we are now trying to grapple in design with that tension of security and being open that can so benefit a community.'

Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust's Head of Redevelopment, Matthew Tulley, was brought into the conversation and asked whether it is in fact beneficial to become porous in design of new buildings and campuses or in developing a new life sciences hub? Matthew replied:

'It's a careful balance. I was at Great Ormond Street Hospital before where we built a research centre, which had lab space in a semi-basement with double height windows so it was very visible to people outside walking along the pavement, It's very open. There was an interesting debate among the scientists there, some of whom saw the opportunity for public engagement. It's been very successful.

'I think the conversation about The Crick and Somers Town is very interesting because often with these construction site disruptions the local people aren't the ones to benefit and I would imagine the scientists who work there aren't local - so how do you create value for the community - perhaps with local jobs associated with it?

'Going back to Paddington and St Mary's Hospital, which does serve the local community, one of the important things as we go through the development process is engaging with that community. It's going to be their hospital. We do still see people in the original 1850's buildings but we have about nine acres of prime real estate and the opportunity for a new hospital on half of that site with the other half devoted to commercial use. What should that commercial hub look like, what should it be? We need to create a great place and one where people want to work next to a brand new teaching hospital. Of course it will benefit from the best transport links and the Elizabeth Line is a huge benefit.'

Matthew was asked about the surrounding area and in particular Praed Street - could this put off talent from abroad from wanting to work at the commercial hub in the future?

'Yes, Praed Street is a little run-down but the north side of Paddington Basin is now developed with the canal and office buildings and people travel from quite far away to go there at the weekends. However, the wayfinding around the area and hospital site isn't easy and we need to make the life science centre when it is built to be a great place, something like King's Place over at King's Cross. Of course our USP for attracting talent is also the very high-end research that we carry out with specialties in trauma and infectious diseases. We also have the largest set of patient data in Europe and I am in conversations with companies such as Vodafone to make the most of that.'

Above: entrance to Paddington Station from Praed Street with hoardings covering construction site of the 'Cube' by Sellar Design & Development, and the brick Victorian buildings of St Mary's Hospital campus.

Healthcare Partner at architects' practice, HOK, Kirstin Ziemer, who has worked with Matthew Tulley on previous hospital projects and is assisting him at Paddington, described the vision for future hospital site design:

'It is constantly evolving and at St Mary's we are working on improving the connectivity. The hospital has a long history as a training hospital and in innovation with the discovery of Penicillin. We have been doing a lot of work globally which is informing what opportunities there are for hospitals to improve their design. The permeability of hospitals is an interesting topic, because if you are a trauma centre you don't necessarily want it to be that permeable. We are working on defining the groups of users and considering the community. There are benefits to providing communal spaces and a wider masterplan - fostering innovation and creating a synergy of different building types, separating out clinics, diagnostics and life sciences. The ground plane at St Mary's is compressed and compact and we are looking at many different flows of people using it, managing that and also looking at how they travel to the hospital with considerations for the public realm. St Mary's does not have a lot of space and we are trying to work out how to create it for patients and staff.'

Kirstin was asked whether the heritage buildings of the hospital were a help or hindrance to the master-planning and sense of creating a place?

'They are both. There is value from them to the wider community context. We are analysing what is required for modern healthcare and looking at different module types. We do not want to pull down buildings but re-purpose them and there is an increasing awareness of releasing carbon in demolition. But it comes back to function and looking for opportunities for those spaces, so that areas in the historic buildings might be more suitable now for research write-up, and new buildings for critical care where tech is required.'

The discussion continued on the topic of how to create place in life science campuses and how to build the brand of those places. Dan Pagella, is Director of Development and Asset Management at ARC Group, which has invested in science campuses in Hammersmith and Uxbridge in London and also at Harwell and Cowley in Oxfordshire. He commented:

'Our site at Hammersmith does not have the benefits of White City and it is not right on top of the tube, but then we wouldn't have the extent of blue and green infrastructure if we were. We have two acres of riverside park and we are very close to Charing Cross Hospital. We are working with late 1990's buildings and with a £70 million redevelopment space for life sciences. We are much broader in our focus on life sciences in Oxfordshire.'

ARC Oxford is part of ARC’s science and tech network of clusters, joining Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, ARC West London and ARC Uxbridge. The company has five million sq. ft of development potential planned across the UK’s Golden Triangle, with three million sq. ft planned at the 700-acre Harwell site.

Dan continued:

'Outside of London of course you have the benefit of scale and control with the ability to put in high-quality master-planning and manage our environment but the challenge there is the dominance of transport issues in those sorts of locations and the worry about cars all the time.

'The Natural History Museum Archive, which was going to be sited at Harwell but now at Reading University has worked out for the best and a good fit for the University. It is always good to have the branding of that level of name but on the other hand the facilities that we have at Harwell look like something out of James Bond. There is important research being carried out in the area of space exploration, which is still an emerging sector and something that we promote heavily as real estate people, but lots of areas of research that are dominated by public sector investment where the funding is easy to get, you find that the scientists just get on with the work quietly.'

Above: Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire (courtesy Harwell Campus / ARC Group)

How can life science clusters in the UK and around the world create their own competitive advantage to attract investment and talent? Mike Standing, Head of Strategy and Architecture, Major Programmes, at Deloitte LLP, joined the debate to say that a key component is in setting up a 'managed process':

'The life sciences sector is growing fast compared to twenty years ago, there is such a level of vibrancy across the UK and we should recognise that. But everyone is fighting for money and if you compare the best cluster sectors in the world, the extent to which you see are spontaneous or operating through a 'managed process' is significant. That's what Boston does and we need to get better at setting up managed processes. There are 203 life science clusters on the planet and there is a need for a competitive advantage. If there is a move towards local clusters and not getting major companies coming to you, you will do important work but it won't be transformative. Look at the managed process at the University of Santa Barbara, where there is better tech and Nobel prize-winners and organisations are integrated. One problem here is that scientists don't think they have to meet the patient.

'In terms of creating place, good clusters and neighbourhoods, we now live in a world where both spouses work and talented individuals are looking for places where they can change jobs without having to move children from their school, where both parents can spend time with their children. So they will head for clusters where they perceive a diverse environment and clusters big enough to provide some fifty different job opportunities. Those clusters will succeed where they can attract families and manage the relationships for the creation of new companies and spin-offs. The United States has a more organised system of steps for establishing IP and funding. Here in the UK we do not have enough of these processes to help, we tend to leave it to the individual. The new energy in life sciences currently requires more management here and to understand the structures to produce new companies. We haven't even worked out our relationship between humans and data and how we protect that access, how we involve the public with AI, where they feel secure and the question of confidentiality. These issues need to be looked at in the human space, not just the built environment.'

Above: The British Library at St. Pancras (courtesy The British Library)

Future Cities Forum asked Professor Tom Rodden, Chief Scientific Adviser at the DCMS to comment on this topic - what is the most sustainable design for arts and science districts, in order to encourage innovation success in the UK economy - for instance in the gaming and film industries?

Professor Rodden said:

'My emphasis is on science and tech and the advantages that arise from clusters of emerging tech. Co-location between business and science where entrepreneurial talent is linked to the skills agenda, and where those people are looking to create new activities - accelerating the pathway to innovation - is the key. You see it play out in Dundee with its emphasis on gaming, where content creators are based alongside emerging skills and with academics. The skills pathway is important. It is the same in Dundee with the healthcare alignment and you also see this replicated in a range of circles and locations throughout the UK, for example in Bristol and the devolved nations. It is always that closeness of alignment that is important and how it is set up by local government which is critical.

'I would point out that a large majority of discovery in innovation centres is not separated out between the arts and sciences. In Dundee the content of design tradition is brought to life by computational perspective, so the separation of disciplines is not as clear cut as one might think. The value of a cultural asset is seen as important and where there is a vibrancy of creativity and imagination, that is also a good place for life sciences. The computational blend with humanities is important and there is no pure distinction these days. The Alan Turing Institute is within the British Library with The Crick across the road, so you do see this blending of arts and sciences across the country, which is a good thing.'

'There is a lot of current interest in AI and emerging tech capabilities and you can find various practices of working, doing well when used appropriately. We will need to see how that features in regulation and of course the Government has published its regulation paper setting it out. We will have to see how industries are impacted by AI but the creative industries have a long tradition of absorbing technologies and will continue to do so and there will be new application of these tools and it is going to be fascinating.

'Digital tech has already been used in programmes to do with future audience enhancing for cultural events, visitor experiences, projections within collections. It is also significant in content production in the film industry and we will see new kinds of projections to change special effects and across a range of different content creators, music, performance and heritage. The use of data and AI is central to this.'

Professor Tom Rodden is Professor of Computing at the University of Nottingham and the Deputy Executive Chair of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) where he is responsible for research strategy, acting as the UK Research and Innovation lead in both Artificial Intelligence (AI) and e-infrastructure.

Tom founded and co-directed the RCUK Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute, a university-wide interdisciplinary research centre and showcased some of the first applications of mobile technologies to support tourism. He has acted as technical advisor to companies including the Microsoft Research Lab in Cambridge, Mobile Life (a Swedish centre of excellence) and been a visiting scientist at Xerox PARC and the Swedish Institute of Computer Science (SICS).

Part Three of our 'Arts and Science Districts' report to be published next week, looks at the emerging designs for cultural destinations and mixed-use, with Southwark Council, Yoo Capital, LDA Design and the Battersea Power Station Development Company.

Above: aerial image from Arup showing the relationship between the Francis Crick Institute and the British Library, with St Pancras International on the right


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