Alder Hey Children’s Hospital opens to patients

Alder Hey Children’s Hospital was officially unveiled on 1 October after two and a half years of construction, and is now ready for its first intake of patients.

BDP provided architecture, landscape architecture, interior and graphic design for the £237 million 274 bed hospital for Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.

The new 60,000 sq m hospital, set in beautiful parkland, is instantly recognisable, even from a distance: a striking identity that stands in deliberate contrast to the typical idea of a hospital.

The brief by Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust called for a unique paediatric environment that, together with adjacent Springfield Park, would form an integrated Children’s Health Park. The design drew on BDP’s experience of schools and previous paediatric hospitals like the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, Brighton, completed in 2007.

Ged Couser, project architect director says:

“The challenge set by the Trust’s design vision emphasised innovation, child-centred identity and clinical best practice. They said: ‘If we’ve seen it before, it’s not for us.’ While recognising that the building needed to be clinically functional, the concept of the building as a ‘hill in the park’ came to us very early on in the design process.

BDP’s design was driven by the knowledge that the experience of taking a child into hospital can be very stressful. The design creates a wonderful place filled with daylight, colour and views out to the landscape to make that experience as pleasant and positive as possible.

Central to BDP’s thinking was ensuring that the majority of rooms, whether for children or staff, enjoy park views and that gardens and terraces are equally accessible to all.

Three open ‘fingers’ radiate out from the atrium concourse that forms the hospital’s public hub. These fingers of clinical space alternate with gardens, intertwining building and landscape.

The flowing green roofs have wildflower meadows growing on them, and running around the top of the building is a silver parapet which creates a continuous playful ripple.

Ged Couser says:

“We believe that we have created a truly world class new hospital that will benefit the patients, their families and the staff who care for them for years to come.

“BDP worked closely with the Trust, their Children and Young People group and their families as the design to ensure that the final vision represented their own. We have created an environment where architecture, interior design, graphic design, landscape design and art, produced by the lead artist Lucy Casson, have all come together to create an amazing place, all underpinned by an efficient clinical plan.”

Mr Couser is also behind designs for The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in Liverpool, plans for which are in for public consultation to develop a major flagship hospital on the same site as the Royal Liverpool University Hospital and the University of Liverpool.

Ben Zucchi design director on the project said:

“We are incredibly proud of this project which represents another significant step forward in our mission to humanise hospital design.  There are amazing things happening in diagnostic science and medicine at the moment, as well as some very interesting conversations going on in the region around the devolution of healthcare budgets, and a more holistic view of the linkages between the environment and wellness. We’re very excited to be major contributors to this conversation and, through our work, demonstrating once again the positive connection between great design and good health.”

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