Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital is one of Europe’s busiest children’s hospitals treating more than 270,000 patients a year.
When the local NHS Foundation Trust decided to modernise the existing building, which was more than 100 years old, its vision extended far beyond a standard revamp. The plan was to create a ‘health park’ connecting children to nature and setting a new benchmark for holistic 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.
This excitingly-shaped campus was inspired by a flower drawn by a teenage patient, an image which was fully integrated into the parkland setting. A striking atrium forms the heart of the campus, flooding the 270-bed hospital with light, and it is full of interesting things for children to see and explore, including a giant indoor tree-house. Three sections lead off the atrium, stretching into the parkland like fingers. Grass landscaping continues up from the ground and over the curved hospital roofs, augmenting the building’s seamless connection with the land.
More than 75% of patients are in single rooms, with windows set at a child’s eye level offering park views. Specialist acoustics reduce noise from hospital equipment, alarms and beepers, and protect the privacy of individual rooms. Each floor has an extended balcony, housing a play deck, allowing even the most unwell patients to experience outdoor space. Alder Hey’s 16 operating theatres, A&E and outpatient departments also benefit from parkland views.
Energy Efficiency and Fast Construction
The green roof is indicative of Alder Hey’s design principles; it is one of the most sustainable 24-hour hospitals ever built, with 60% of its energy generated on site. Our client wanted affordability and efficiency and we met this challenge by providing 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, and providing maximum flexibility in creating room layouts. This approach means less cladding requirements, removing the need for external scaffolding, with its associated health and safety implications. Effective installations and the use of high quality, robust and durable materials will help reduce the need for future labour and maintenance requirements. The vast majority of components were manufactured offsite, decreasing build time and boosting energy efficiency.
The former children’s hospital has been demolished and the site reclaimed as green space featuring wildflower meadows and a landscaped children’s sports park for community use. Alder Hey Children’s Health Park has proved to be a regeneration scheme that has benefited the wider community, too.