Designing for small people

Children’s hospitals are among the most complex of all healthcare buildings. Offering many medical specialities in one place, and caring for patients from the very youngest to those approaching adulthood, they present many design challenges – from tailoring every aspect of the fit-out to small people who love to explore, to stacking and grouping functions so that large, diverse facilities can operate with maximum efficiency.

We’re proud to have worked on some very special buildings dedicated to children, as well as some of the most efficient and sustainable facilities in the world. We play a key consultancy role on the transformation of some of the world’s most renowned children’s hospitals and provide a range of technical and project management services on facilities large and small, across the globe.

Advancement in Children’s Healthcare

Children’s healthcare is changing all the time, so we provide design solutions to help our clients keep up with the demands of 21st century medicine. We create inspiring spaces that incorporate new kinds of treatment and new ideas about wellbeing, supporting our clients to care for young patients with increasingly complex needs and to meet and exceed their parents’ expectations of what a children’s hospital should offer.

Engineering Children

Alder Hey Children’s Health Park 

Creating Healing Environments

Our teams draw on the best available science about what makes a healing environment, and use proven technologies to put it into practice. We collaborate with healthcare practitioners to find out how we can support them to deliver better care, and we spend time listening to patients big and small about the spaces that make a difference to them. Within our children’s hospitals, you’ll find abundant natural light, fresh air and greenery, great views for patients and their families to enjoy, and attractive spaces that encourage exploration and play or provide a calming backdrop for quieter moments.

Engineering Children’s Hospitals

Children’s hospitals are complex, highly serviced, power-hungry buildings that must perform flawlessly around the clock: there can be no downtime when many young lives depend on the constant, consistent functioning of hundreds of essential systems. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be exemplars of resource efficiency and sustainability too. Our teams bring specialist expertise in many disciplines to ensure that every component of our buildings responds perfectly to the needs of healthcare practitioners, patients and their families, while making the lightest impact on the environment. From the biggest decisions over vital infrastructure to the smallest touch-panel control, we can provide clear, relevant advice on hot topics such as district energy, combined cooling, heat and power, the “Internet of Things” and smart buildings, and on how each client can derive the greatest possible value from them.

Phoenix Children’s Hospital 

There’s plenty of innovation that the patients don’t see too, in the structures and systems that underpin a perfectly functioning children’s hospital. At Alder Hey, for example, we designed an innovative precast concrete facade that doubles as both structure and cladding, reducing internal columns, materials and embodied carbon. And we’re using the latest design tools and off-site manufacturing techniques, improving speed and accuracy – and ensuring that the final product will perform just as it should.

Listening to the End-User

Children are often the most demanding clients when it comes to sustainability – they understand that clean energy and saving water now is key to their world in the future. We invite young people to contribute to our designs and we listen to their concerns. Then, we work hard to find the smartest, most sustainable solutions so that when they ask the tough questions, we have some good answers.

Adapting Designs to New Technologies

Advances in medical care bring new hope for patients and their families, but they also present great challenges for the design of children’s hospitals. Often encompassing many different departments under one roof, these buildings must accommodate a growing range of highly specialised equipment, which must all be tailored to the needs of younger patients.

WSP has delivered some of the world’s most technologically advanced healthcare facilities, so we understand the unique demands that they present. We can offer efficient design solutions to manage the risks of housing powerful but sensitive machines in close proximity to busy clinical areas, and meet very precise requirements on electricity, water, vibrations and radiation shielding.


The Royal Hospital for Children, Glasgow

Optimising Buildings to Suit Clients’ Needs

We support children’s healthcare providers to make the most effective use of smart building technologies, IT and communications to operate more efficiently and offer a higher quality of service. After all, today’s patients are tomorrow’s digital natives for whom seamless networks and interactive devices are second nature. Our digital experts share their infectious enthusiasm for what technology can offer – but we combine it with a very grown-up scrutiny of the real costs and benefits to your organisation.

Building Hospitals Fit to Serve Generations to Come

Successful children’s hospitals become much-loved landmarks for their communities, caring for generation after generation and we know that facilities for children have to withstand a lot over their lifetime. We design buildings to last, with robust fit-outs that stay clean and look good, even as thousands of patients and their families put them through their paces every day. We understand the importance of finishes and fixtures that are easy to maintain, and flexible structures and systems that can be altered or upgraded as needs change or new treatments become available. For older buildings in need of modernisation, we collaborate with stakeholders young and old to give them a new lease of life, retaining what makes them special, without compromising on safety, comfort or efficiency.


Centre for Childrens Health Research

Building-in Longevity

The climate is changing, so our expert teams assess and mitigate the potential risks to building structures and the lives of vulnerable patients. We keep one eye on the future, so that internal temperatures remain safe during warmer summers and essential systems won’t fail in the event of flooding or storms. That’s part of our rigorous, holistic approach to future-proofing an investment in children’s care, equipping our clients to meet today’s highest standards and whatever tomorrow brings.

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