“If we’ve seen it before, it’s not for us” was the challenge set by the Trust's design vision which emphasised innovation, child-centred identity and clinical best practice.
The Trust called for a unique paediatric environment that, together with adjacent Springfield Park, would form an integrated ‘Children’s Health Park’. Its hilly, undulating profile makes the new building instantly recognizable: a striking identity that stands in contrast to the typical idea of a hospital.
The three-finger plan form gives most rooms a view of the park and access to outdoor space at the end of each ward connects children with the outdoors even if they have a long inpatient stay. Internally, the goal was to make way-finding simple and stress-free and to get away from the long corridors characteristic of the current hospital. This open feel begins with the atrium concourse, a five-storey space that links the building’s two principal entrances and gives visitors an immediate appreciation of the hospital’s layout and a reassuring sense of its life and buzz. The sense of openness extends to the clinical areas, where sliding glass doors have been used in bedrooms to optimise observation and daylight. In the Critical Care Unit we produced an innovative layout with patient bays curved around a central staff base and roof light which floods the 8-bed cluster with daylight.
The fingers vary in plan and section adapting very successfully to the functional requirements of the different clinical areas: from deeper plan diagnostic and treatment areas like the 48-bed Critical Care Unit on lower floors, to shallower plan wards with 75% single rooms on upper floors. This flexibility allowed the design team to take maximum advantage of the extensive consultation process with staff, children and families, adapting and refining the layouts without the constraints of a preconceived external form.