BBH Awards - London cancer centre scoops prize for Specialist Services Design

UCH Macmillan cancer centre sets precedent for future healthcare architecture

This year’s Building Better Healthcare Award for Specialist Services Design went to the Macmillan Cancer Centre at University College Hospital (UCH), which has torn up the rule book on NHS oncology services and produced a building that, according to the judging panel, ‘pushes the boundaries of healthcare design where the boundaries need to be pushed’.

While traditionally cancer care has not been differentiated from any other clinical speciality within NHS hospitals, the UCH Macmillan Cancer Centre has been designed around the very specific needs of patients, focusing on aesthetics and functionality to complement treatments and enhance wellbeing, rehabilitation and cancer survivorship.

The patient journey created by experienced clinicians and patient groups was the starting point of the design and, as a result, the building enables patients to receive their treatment wherever and however they require, creating the UK’s first ambulatory cancer care facility.

This is the product of an informed, enlightened client working closely with architects with a broad experience. The result is a project that brings a number of new ideas to this type of facility in the UK

The space was designed to be welcoming and relaxing, with the naturally-lit atria and external garden spaces providing places for both private retreat and socialisation. The overall impression is one of space and light - a positive environment that also delivers access to the latest research, treatments and medical equipment, including the UK’s first combined PET/MR scanner.

With future flexibility in mind, the layout is highly adaptable and requirements for infection control and patient safety have been met without compromising the beauty of the space. In addition, the use of natural light combined with innovative glazing has ensured the centre has met the newly-announced NHS environmental targets eight years early, and carbon emissions have been cut by a third. The centre has both a green roof and photovoltaic panels for on-site energy generation, earning the project a BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating.

Jeffrey Tobias, a consultant clinical oncologist at the unit, said: “The facility will offer patients a better environment and a less confusing, more integrated treatment pathway. In addition its ethos and our close link with Macmillan will make more help available to patients who are struggling to come to terms with their diagnosis and the often demanding treatment.”

The judges said of the entry: “This is the product of an informed, enlightened client working closely with architects with a broad experience. The result is a project that brings a number of new ideas to this type of facility in the UK.

“Significant areas of the building have been designed on a shell and core basis, with a fit-out then added, as in a commercial office, with two additional architects designing particular areas. The result is an unusual potential for medium and long-term flexibility.

“The fact the various areas flow seamlessly into one another is testament both to the strength of the overall design and to the sensitivity of the individual designers. This is a very intensive facility on a tight site, but it has a feeling of relaxed generosity through whole areas being designed on an open-plan principle – perhaps most notably the central chemotherapy area.”

WINNER: University College Hospital London Macmillan Cancer Centre (University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Hopkins Architects, Patrick Nee, Skanska, John Birch, Andy Samual)

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