A vision for change

Construction begins on Irish National Forensic Mental Health Hospital

Work is well underway on the construction of the new Irish National Forensic Mental Health Hospital.

The €160m 130-bed facility at St Ita’s Hospital in Portrane has been designed by Scott Tallon Walker Architects in collaboration with Medical Architecture and will open in early 2020.

Announcing the contract, Irish Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, said: “This new state-of-the-art hospital, along with all of its associated facilities, will be one of the most modern of its type in Europe.”

The 24,500sq m complex will include a new 30-bed intensive care rehabilitation unit (ICRU) and a 10-bed forensic child and adolescent mental health (CAMHS) unit.

Fit for the 21st Century

The development fulfils recommendations made in the national mental health policy, A Vision for Change.

Accessed through a spacious and welcoming reception block, the hospital is laid out as a series of pavilion buildings around a pedestrianised ‘village green,’ achieving intuitive wayfinding

It will replace the current hospital, which opened in 1850 and was the first such facility in the world.

However, the Victorian building is no longer suitable for the delivery of 21st-century models of mental health care.

Donal Blake of Scott Tallon Walker Architects said the design would help to maximise light, space and aesthetic quality while complying with strict security regulations.

“Accessed through a spacious and welcoming reception block, the hospital is laid out as a series of pavilion buildings around a pedestrianised ‘village green,’ achieving intuitive wayfinding through a site-wide narrative of colour, art and landscaping,” he added.

“A ‘village centre’ provides shared recreational and therapeutic facilities including a horticultural area, while a series of courtyards and secure perimeter gardens allow patients direct access to nature from each ward.”

World leaders

The single patient bedrooms are laid out in small wards around shared indoor and outdoor spaces in which collective activities and therapies take place.

The new facility will once again position Ireland’s forensic mental health services as world leaders in best clinical practice in a facility which maximises the therapeutic value of landscape and design

Within this unifying design concept, individual buildings respond to the specific clinical requirements, including pre-discharge unit, a female unit, mental health intellectual disabilities unit, and medium and high-secure units.

A perimeter service road facilitates direct, secure vehicular access to each building, providing for patient admissions, emergency vehicles and services and deliveries.

“The new facility will once again position Ireland’s forensic mental health services as world leaders in best clinical practice in a facility which maximises the therapeutic value of landscape and design within the constraints of a secure setting,” said Blake.

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