Christiaan Hiemstra

Christiaan Hiemstra

Hillingdon Pilot Ward, Uxbridge


A research and design project to design a 24-bedded 100% single room ward for the purpose of evaluating the effects of varying layouts of single rooms on nursing operation and patient recovery in a ward unit. The unit is to be a temporary building, in use for four years, and located in the parking area of Hillingdon Hospital.


Proposed is a T-shaped ward unit, comprising three bedroom wings of each 8 single rooms splayed out from a central support core. Each of the wings is built up of a different type of single room to en-suite arrangement, resulting in varying degrees of visibility and functionality along with overall space-use.

The room modules are each built up of a similar-shaped en-suite pod, merged with (Department of Health) minimum space requirements for bed activity, and a sufficient support zone for patient’s belongings, patient’s files, drugs, a clinical wash hand basin with worktop, patient fridge, and a foldable settee for patients family members to stay overnight.

An internal en-suite to bedroom arrangement gives patients maximum exposure to daylight and views of the exterior. This model is most space efficient, and results in the most private patient experience, though restricting views to internal corridor areas. External niches are formed where nurse’s touchdown bases can be located.

The external en-suite model offers better views between bedroom and corridor, while restricting external window size. In this wing, touchdown bases are notched out of the walls where two bedrooms and corridor meet. The external model results in wider corridors and angled exterior wall, while offering an appropriate opportunity to install solar shading, can be more expensive and space-hungry.

The third (courtyard cluster) wing type combines the internal en-suite model bedroom with an In-between model, where two bathrooms are sandwiched between two bedrooms. Though requiring the most area of the three models, this model allows for maximised visibility both internally and externally. Combining this layout with the internal-type bedrooms allows for a vast “courtyard-like” working space, improving nurse communication and their approach by patients, as a more humble community-like hospital environment.

The provision of single rooms allows for a reducing of support core and activities within, bringing down square metres and activity spaces necessary to accommodate an equal amount of patients. Activities such as drug preparation, treatment, and interviews now all occur in the patients “personal” environment. Remaining in the central zone are an office with reception, a waiting/ dining/sitting foyer, a multipurpose interview/quiet/lecture room, dirty and clean utility, wc’s, staff changing cubicles and a cleaner’s cupboard.

This plan allows for efficient servicing to the bedroom wings both technically and functionally. Laying out four bedrooms per side along a corridor in three different ways gives a controlled environment for comparing single room layouts and their use, while accommodating the need of experimental variables such as mirrored vs. repeated rooms, in-room fridges vs. no fridges, increased visibility to the interior vs. the exterior. As an experiment, it gives staff the opportunity of working in different single room patient environments while being on the same ward.

For the temporary nature of this building, the entire unit is laid out on a 4.5m wide structural grid. This means that the entire unit could be built completely off-site and craned into place, each module adjoining the next. Each module will contain two bedrooms and a section of corridor, the whole of which could be reconfigured and reused in another location.

The Architects for Health
First Student Health Design Award
was sponsored by