Alder Hey Children’s Hospital is one of Europe’s busiest children’s hospitals, but until last year it was housed in an almost century-old building with a leaky roof.
When the local NHS Foundation Trust decided to modernise, its vision went far beyond a simple revamp: why not integrate the new hospital into neighbouring parkland and use green space to boost wellbeing? The result is a trailblazing ‘health park’ that connects patients with nature and sets new standards for paediatric care.
Engineering Alder Hey: Inspired by Children
We worked with architect BDP on the design, but the vision was uniquely inspired by the children themselves – with patients and families being consulted throughout the project from effective access to fresh air to artwork on the walls. The patient-friendly hospital has been set out to create a calming and happy environment that doesn’t feel like a hospital and enhances the children’s healing.
Focus on Patients and Staff
The cutting-edge facility, which has 16 operating theatres and is set to treat 270,000 children and young people each year, is seamlessly entwined with the surrounding park. Its three sections blend into the landscape by reaching into the green space like fingers, while grass continues from the ground up and over the curved hospital roofs.
With patient windows, specifically designed at children’s level, opening out onto the park and all departments looking over gardens or parkland, the 270-bed hospital is flooded with natural light. Room layout is also optimised to reduce distances covered by staff, while the decision to keep critical functions like A&E on lower floors has allowed space for a striking atrium at the heart of the building. It also features a giant indoor tree house that provides relaxation areas and play space. Specialist acoustics contain noise from hospital equipment, alarms and beepers, while protecting the privacy of individual rooms.
Energy Efficiency and Fast Construction
As well as an extraordinary building with outdoor space to nurture patient recovery, the client wanted affordability and efficiency. We met this challenge head on with an innovative building-envelope design. More than 1,250 precast concrete sandwich panels on the building’s perimeter distribute loads to the foundations, removing the need for conventional columns.
The design of the panels themselves also cut cladding requirements, while the vast majority of components were manufactured offsite, reducing build time, boosting energy efficiency and contributing to the most sustainable 24-hour hospital ever. Clinicians were able to follow and visualise progress throughout the project thanks to the advanced use of 3D design that could walk them through the room flows, illustrate slices of the building and particular design specifications.
The old building will be demolished and reclaimed as parkland, proving this is more than a hospital project – it is a regeneration scheme for the whole community.