UK's biggest off-site healthcare project completed

Yorkon off-site solution provides new Women and Children’s Centre at North Middlesex University Hospital

The UK’s largest and most-complex modular building project to be built in the health sector has been handed over.

The new Women and Children’s Centre at North Middlesex University Hospital was constructed Kier Construction using a Yorkon off-site solution from the Portakabin Group.

The £17.9m contract, which was procured under the ProCure21+ framework, involved the off-site manufacture of the building at the Portakabin Group’s production centre in York.

By using an off-site approach we were able to deliver a fantastic building of this scale, on time and in an unreal timescale, which was a tremendous achievement

It was built to accommodate the increase in maternity patients and around 2,000 additional births in North Middlesex and forms part of a major re-organisation of hospital services in the boroughs of Barnet, Enfield and Haringey. The architects and project managers were AHP Architects & Surveyors.

The Yorkon off-site approach radically reduced disruption to patient care and the build programme to ensure the new facilities became operational in line with the trust’s clinical strategy and prior to seasonal winter pressures.

Catherine Barns, senior project manager at North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, said: “Given the extremely challenging timescale for this project, we needed to look at more-innovative methods of procurement and construction. By using an off-site approach we were able to deliver a fantastic building of this scale, on time and in an unreal timescale, which was a tremendous achievement for the trust, Kier and Portakabin.

“Other health professionals from both the UK and internationally who have visited the building since its completion have been very impressed by our new facilities. Staff love its functionality and efficiency, and patients have likened it to a hotel.”

“The project really pushed the boundaries of off-site construction, but you would never know it was a modular building constructed in a factory. It is a real credit to the whole team.”

Simon Ambler, director of the Portakabin Group, added: “This is our fourth project with Kier and our largest-ever contract for a single building. Its complexities demonstrate just what is now achievable with an advanced off-site solution in a short timescale and on an extremely busy hospital site.”

The building accommodates a consultant-led delivery unit with additional high-dependency beds, two obstetrics theatres, a neonatal unit, triage centre, women’s outpatient department, and a midwife-led birthing unit with four birthing pool rooms. A rooftop plant room is located on the second floor.

Its complexities demonstrate just what is now achievable with an advanced off-site solution in a short timescale and on an extremely busy hospital site

The external appearance of the scheme reflects the design of the adjacent facilities and features rendered façades, ribbon glazing around the perimeter of the first floor, a large atrium entrance spanning two storeys with light wells providing further natural daylight inside. There is also full-height glazing to the stair towers on each of the two wings and large projecting window bays provide a visual contrast to the rendered finish across the building envelope.

The project is targeted to achieve a BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating and has a number of sustainability features including a biodiverse green roof with a variety of meadow flowers to part of the first floor, photovoltaic panels above the plant room, and an energy-efficient combined heat and power system.

152 steel-framed Yorkon modules up to 18m long and weighing up to 18.5 tonnes were craned into position in just 28 days. A 500-tonne crane was used for this operation, which took place within the hospital grounds and in close proximity to existing facilities that remained in use throughout. The units were installed partially completed with window frames, first-fix electrics, HVAC ducting, plumbing, and a high-performance concrete floor.

The Portakabin Group has an extensive track record in the healthcare sector, having completed a wide variety of bespoke building projects using Yorkon off-site solutions, including ward extensions, self-contained theatre blocks, emergency care units, haemodialysis centres, offices, community clinics, and complete hospitals, delivering all the advantages of off-site construction.

Companies