Realising that Cardiff’s crumbling Whitchurch hospital was no longer fit for purpose, hospital leaders seized the opportunity to build a more integrated mental health service for the community, housed in a state-of-the-art facility.
The new Adult Mental Health Unit at the Llandough hospital campus brings adult and specialist services previously provided across two sites into one energy-efficient building. Located as near to the hospital’s other facilities as possible, the 19,800m2 unit provides easy access to neighbouring clinics and reflects the guiding principle that mental health services should complement – and be integrated with – wider hospital care.
Flexible Accommodation Spaces
The 135-bed inpatient facility provides modern, flexible space to accommodate a range of functions, including crisis assessment, psychiatric intensive care and addiction support alongside recreational, relaxation and therapy areas. A neuropsychiatry inpatient unit cares for patients with acquired brain injuries. The centre’s 10 wards each have between 10 and 15 beds and accommodate all patients in private rooms. Flexible boundaries within wards allow for adaptable facilities while maintaining essential privacy and security. The largely two-storey structure also takes advantage of the sloping site to create additional space above and below the main floors. Patients and staff were consulted on the design, which sees increasing levels of privacy as users progress away from the public entrance and through the building.
Environmentally Conscious Engineering
WSP was engaged to deliver a range of services, including mechanical, electrical and public health design, as well as sustainability solutions. The client wanted to create an efficient, low-energy building that would achieve a BREEAM Excellent rating, while enjoying the security of supply necessary to this kind of 24-hour facility. Built on an old car park to reduce its environmental impact on the surrounding area, the unit is also designed for minimal energy consumption. Notable features include efficient lighting design, maximized daylight and presence-detecting lighting controls. Natural ventilation is used where possible and an array of solar PV panels mounted on the roof.
The building services design also made use of innovative materials and offsite installation techniques to boost efficiency and reduce construction time. Duel fuel boilers and generators meanwhile ensure resilience. BIM was invaluable for making sure that all services were fully coordinated before construction began
A Soothing Setting
The facility, designed by Array Architects, successfully combines a residential atmosphere with appropriate security measures to meet the overarching goal of a welcoming but safe environment. Landscaped gardens, natural light and therapeutic colours help to create a soothing setting that respects patient dignity and fosters a sense of community. Meanwhile, all aspects of the design keep patient safety in mind. Floor-to-ceiling windows, for example, are built to withstand the impact of heavy objects such as items of furniture, allowing residents to connect with the landscape outside in a secure environment.