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New World-Class Cancer and Surgical Centre in Central London by Scott Tallon Walker Architects Completed
The University College Hospital Grafton Way Building by Scott Tallon Walker Architects in association with Edward Williams Architects has completed, providing a major new healthcare facility that will offer cutting-edge cancer treatment to NHS and private patients in the UK. In line with UCLH’s visionary plan, the new hospital will deliver 37,000m2 of contemporary architecturally innovative facilities and house one of just two NHS proton beam therapy centres in the UK, making it one of the leading oncology treatment hospitals in the world.
After over a decade of close collaboration with clients and co-consultants in the multi-disciplinary design team, the architects have brought the hugely complex facility from conception and stakeholder engagement, through to feasibility and masterplanning stages, to bring the final project design successfully to completion.
The new building is located in a tight and historically challenging site within the Bloomsbury Conservation area, in close proximity to two Grade II-listed UCL buildings and directly below the Mayor of London’s View Corridor. In order to create the necessary clinical space while respecting protected views and surrounding heritage, the 13storey building has a significant basement, which is five-storeys plus a mezzanine below ground, is equivalent in volume to the Royal Albert Hall. Above this are seven floors, which go to a height of 57m. In its entirety the building is the same height as Tower Bridge.
The landmark facility houses a proton beam therapy (PBT) centre, a surgical complex, including eight operating theatres, a surgical recovery area, and a surgical ward. In addition there is a imaging centre, a, a ten-bed critical care unit, and three floors of inpatient wards for patients with blood disorders, creating one of Europe's largest dedicated Haem-Oncology hospitals, as well as one and a half floors for a private inpatient haematology service. Waiting areas enhanced by charitable support have been created for children, teenagers and young adults, as well as a Macmillan Living Room providing holistic patient care. The revolutionary new PBT centre is one of only two such facilities for NHS treatment in England, alongside the Christie Hospital in Manchester, making it easier for patients to access this treatment.
Central to UCLH’s vision was the aspiration to create a facility that not only delivers the very best medical treatment, but also aids patient and staff wellbeing. Patient and clinician participation were central to the evolution of this progressive facility, both in order to achieve functional clarity in clinical and patient pathways, and to create an environment that benefits the wellbeing of all users. Crucially the building is designed to remove stress from the patient journey, actively promote positive outcomes, and support patient recovery.
The building is characterised by generosity of space, light transparency and sensory encounters to offer respite from city life, and the busy Tottenham Court Road area where it is based. To align with adjacent buildings and to protect light and sight lines, the building is stepped back across its section and split into two corresponding blocks. These are connected by a spacious, light- filled atrium that is designed to bring natural daylight right through the building and into all inpatient rooms, particularly important to the hospital’s long-term patients.
The building’s external ‘veiled’ façade provides solar shading and layers of privacy to patient rooms from the outside, while allowing a larger degree of openness, connectivity, and visibility to the outside world for the patient, to counter the sense of isolation that can accompany extended hospital stays. A contemporary material palette was selected to complement the existing Portland stone cladding of neighbouring buildings, and the project is designed to have a positive urban impact on the previously derelict site, with a scale and massing that respects and restores the well-established city grid.
The choices of material, colour palette, motifs and artwork are guided by a ‘natural garden’ theme, designed to aid wellbeing and recovery by creating a calming and uplifting environment. The design embraces the principles of direct visual access to natural daylight, natural materials and natural landscapes, through a series of planted terraces intended to flower year-round to provide peaceful settings for recuperation.
The Grafton Way Building comes at a critical time, providing a location for the treatment of vulnerable blood disorder patients, and space for planned life-changing surgery. Adaptability has been a key priority throughout the design, and rooms in the new hospital can be easily adjusted so that spaces can be used for different treatments according to demand, while wards are purpose-designed for infection control so that ongoing care and treatment can take place in a safe environment.
UCLH Chief Executive David Probert, said: “I am immensely proud of the Grafton Way Building. Delivering healthcare is the work of people, but well designed buildings make a huge difference to how effectively this can be achieved. Our new Grafton Way Building overcomes design and build challenges to deliver a comforting environment for patients alongside the very latest technology and equipment for our staff. A complex building programme, made more so with the final stages taking place during the global pandemic, I congratulate everyone involved.”
Sheila Carney, Director of Scott Tallon Walker Architects, said: “We are incredibly proud of our team that was responsible for the design and delivery of this landmark building. The pandemic has further emphasised the importance of excellent healthcare for patients in a modern considered environment designed to benefit the wellbeing of all users and promote recovery times. The design embraces the principles of direct visual access to natural daylight, nature and landscape and maximises the use of natural materials and colour palettes throughout. The huge success of this project is a testament to the dedication, hard work and determination of a truly remarkable collaborative team and to the vision of UCLH and our successful collaboration with Bouygues UK to deliver this project.”
Edward Williams, Founder of Edward Williams Architects said: “From my previous experience designing the Macmillan Cancer centre for UCLH it was clear that site value maximisation would be crucial on this project, in a constrained site with height restrictions from the St Pauls View Corridor. We managed to arrange most plant and functions that did not require daylight below ground level, as well as healing the urban block and achieving an integrated design with the existing residential accommodation and internal planted roofs.”
Fabienne Viala, Chair of Bouygues UK said: “We favour complex projects where we can add value through our global experience and technical expertise. This new state-of-the-art facility for UCLH is one of the most complex public building projects ever undertaken. Its successful delivery is a result of collaboration, both amongst Bouygues colleagues and with UCLH and the wider project team, and it’s hugely rewarding to see the first patients beginning their treatment here, highlighting the potential that this facility has to improve people’s lives.”
As one of the most complex public building projects recently undertaken, The Grafton Way Building has already won a Ground Engineering Award for its construction and has been awarded a BREEAM International Highly Commended Award for Sustainability.