AfH Glasgow Event Visits on 11 September 2013

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Barrhead Health and Social Care Centre

Lead designers – Avanti Architect
We started our tour of four recently completed or under-construction health buildings at Barrhead. It was a grey and rainy day and we dodged the torrential showers to find shelter.

The new £18 million Barrhead Health and Social Care Centre was opened in 2011. It provides a wide range of health services, including GP, dental, physiotherapy and older adult day services, alongside community services such as district nursing, health visiting and home care. The centre is run in partnership between NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and East Renfrewshire Council, with both organisations sharing ownership of the building.

The building is seen as a new model of healthcare delivery and was designed by Avanti Architects. Care accommodation is located on the ground and first floors and organised around a triple height top lit atrium. This atrium is light and airy and creates a welcoming place of arrival. Waiting areas on the ground and first floors take advantage of the views over a park and hills behind the building. The reception desks to each clinic and service are denoted by subtle colours and clear signage. This restraint means that the building has a greater sense of integration than segregation- even and in-spite of, the number of services offered.

The atrium is designed to accommodate community activities and art exhibitions. It is a social space for all to share as well as being a place to pass through. It is possible to navigate to the various services clearly and visibly.

The building is highly insulated and heated using a ground source heat pump connected to a geothermal energy array of PV panels located underneath the car park. Carefully placed glazed units optimize solar gain and most of the clinical spaces and offices are naturally ventilated.

For more information

Southern General Hospital construction site

Client /Developer – Brookfield Multiplex Construction Europe
Lead Designers – IBI Nightingale

SouthernGeneralHospital1The superbly organised tour of fantastic new Scottish health buildings arrived at Southern General Hospital exactly on time. As the coach approached the site, even from a distance, the scale of this massive undertaking was clear and the enormity of the 1600 strong workforce evidenced by the car park as far as the eye could see.

We had received some statistics in the presentations at London Lighthouse the previous day by Neil Murphy of IBI Nightingales, the architects and Paul Serkis of Brookfield Multiplex the D&B constructors, of this 1300 bed (!) hospital complex.

SouthernGeneralHospital2There are two conjoined hospitals under construction here – the Southern General a 14-floor adult hospital with 1109 beds (100% single beds) and state of the art Emergency, Acute Receiving, Critical Care, Theatres and Diagnostic Services with helipad on top, offering acute specialist inpatient care, medical day case services and also outpatient clinics servicing the local population.

The second is a children’s hospital, with a separate identity and entrance. With 256 beds (mix of singles and 4 bed) over five storeys it will replace the existing Royal Hospital for Sick Children. The Children’s Hospital will provide a large number of specialist services to the West of Scotland and the wider population of Scotland in addition to the full range of secondary care services to people of Greater Glasgow and Clyde. Specialist services include cardiology and cardiac surgery, renal and bone marrow transplantation. For a number of these specialist services, the Children’s Hospital is recognised as the sole provider in Scotland.

SouthernGeneralHospital3This project is not due to complete until March 2015 although Brookfield Multiplex hope to enhance the programme to November 2014. Nevertheless because of the scale of the project, whilst some areas are in the first stages of construction, others are already complete, signed off and locked.

After completing our suiting and booting (and some of us being severely challenged by the new safety hat lanyards) and having a comprehensive safety induction which included the number of cranes, safety cranes, spiders and hoists (daunting numbers) we were given a brief introduction to the project and then guided, shepherded and herded through, up and into this extraordinary scaled hospital building.

SouthernGeneralHospital4First impressions on approaching the new main building are of the sleek and elegant structurally integrated facade with Schuco windows. Elegantly proportioned, patterned and coloured, this will be a proud new addition to the Glasgow skyline.

On approach, the scale of the concrete frame supporting this behemoth becomes clear and beautiful. It is as lovely a pour of concrete as I have seen on most fair-face concrete, but sadly it is to be covered up. Just maybe those beautiful columns will be spared?

SouthernGeneralHospital6The hierarchy of scale reveals itself through the entrance progression until you enter the soon-to-be-roofed (etfe) atrium. Here the space soars away revealing the simple and clear organisational diagram of the tower – two wings of wards linked by a populated bridge. The architects have taken the opportunity to make a playful and colourful statement piece with projecting Office boxes -likened to jewels- stepping up and across the atrium façade.

The tour of a building at this stage in the process reveals the structure and construction at all stages, allowing an understanding of the build up and installations involved.

SouthernGeneralHospital7The organisation of the single bed wards with paired en-suites is clear and logical, allowing daylight and views to all the beds. The decision was taken early in the design process, that given the proximity of the sewage works, the hospital would be sealed and mechanically ventilated. As we walked through the wards a discussion ensued, between a few of the more detail-inclined attendees (anoraks), about the optimum provision of windows and blinds. The design here includes an external double glazed unit, a 50mm louvre blind and an internal pane. This pane is sealed with the blind removeable from a panel above- creating an interesting challenge of how to clean the void between. The blinds are fixed in position but rotate to allow privacy, darkness or view.


SouthernGeneralHospital8Lower down the building the depth of plan starts to reduce the amount of external window available for some of the more acute facilities.

It’s early in the construction to report on the success of this project. But it is one of the largest in the UK and clearly very important for the south-west region of Glasgow and environs.

For more information

New Stobhill Hospital

Client /Developer – Balfour Beatty Construction Ltd
Lead Designers – Reiach and Hall Architects

The third visit of the day for the group was the new Stobhill Hospital. After the imposing bulk of the Southern General, it was somewhat of a relief to enter a building where one could relate to the scale and be assured that getting lost was not an option.

First we were treated to a much needed and substantial buffet lunch by our hosts and then, fed and watered, we were escorted on our visit to the building.

It well deserves its title of “the world’s best small hospital”. There is a feeling of calm and serenity in the atrium which is accessed from both ends with accommodation at either side. Although there were many people in this very attractive space it was not noticeably busy; visitors and patients were occupied with different activities in the café, at the reception desk, on the escalator or stairs and all was relatively quiet and ordered. It was light and airy with views out at each end and also into some of the small courtyards. These are beautifully planted with larch and birch trees and have a covering of ivy on the pebbled ground: a delicate planting which provides a tranquil and peaceful outlook from all floors.

At this level, it is possible to join in with the more animated movement in the café and a wonderful farm shop or to sit quietly in the Sanctuary for contemplation or repose. There is an air of quiet purpose throughout.

Colours, materials and details are simple and muted, contributing to the sense of composure within this hospital. The colour palette, both internal and external, is white, with the grey of stainless steel and the natural soft brown of larch or fir. Strategically placed areas of brighter colours differentiate specialist clinics or functions. Artwork has been subtly integrated with internal design and way finding to contribute to ease of orientation.

Clinics are easily reached either from the atrium itself or via the escalator or lift to galleried levels 1 and 2 though the fit and energetic can use the central stair.

The New Stobhill Hospital is reputed to be one of the most modern and well equipped in Scotland, treating about 400,000 patients every year. It covers a floor-space of approximately 30,000 m2

In addition to outpatient clinics, day surgery and diagnostic services, the hospital provides a number of specialist services such as cardiology, renal dialysis and gynaecology.

Patients not only benefit from modern new facilities: the manner in which care is provided from the hospital has also changed for the better. Services have been redesigned around the needs of the patient to enhance the quality of care and speed up diagnosis and treatment.

There is also a new Minor Injuries Unit with its own dedicated entrance for rapid access to the clinical team. This unit is open seven days a week.

Patients who require an MRI scan will be able to have this performed locally at the hospital.

More information and photographs to be found on the Architecture and Design Scotland website at

Also from the Architects journal

And from RIAS

See also

The West Centre

Lead Designers – Anderson Bell Christie
We concluded our tour with a visit to The West Centre, a child and family centre in the community of Drumchapel. On a site previously occupied by a Glasgow City Council nursery, it was designed as a ‘one stop shop’ for medical and social support services for families and children with longterm health issues.

The three storey building designed by Anderson Bell Christie provided 1900m2 of accommodation following a simple linear arrangement of spaces. Meeting rooms, consultation rooms are all flexibly designed to allow for future changes of use. Despite patient and staff areas being given priority to having external aspects, the internal atrium floods light into the centre of the building off which the stairs and lifts are located.

The building is faithful to the aspirations of being a healthcare facility which is non-clinical and welcoming to children. The frontage to the main road into Drumchapel is a considered combination of white render, zinc cladding and punch hole windows. Albeit a cool palette, the composition is informal and playful with just the right touch of importance and presence in a community setting.

A notable success in this project was the integration of artwork. It is so well weaved into the fabric of the environment that it is difficult in areas to know where it starts and ends. The garden fence, built-in bench seating, the sensory cave under the stairs, amongst many other playful installations all contributed to the spatial experience of the building. On close inspection, it was not surprising that over 6% of the £4m project value was assigned to art.

It has been accepted by all those involved in this project that it was the shared courage, motivation and ambition of the design team and the stakeholder groups that enabled the delivery of such a non-conventional but coherent building. An excellent example of a high quality, high design healthcare provision.


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