On the 5th May 18 Architects for Health members visited Pembury Hospital in Kent. This 513 bed PFI Hospital for the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust is due for completion imminently and is the first large scale 100% single bedroom Hospital to be developed by the NHS. Designed by Anshen+Allen, HCP and constructed by Laing O’Rourke, who were our hosts for the day.
The most striking feature of the new Hospital are the parts you don’t see, the cleverly hidden multi-storey carpark tucked into the side of the hill, the ambulance entrance for A+E and the considered use of levels seemingly reducing the scale of the Hospital itself. The Hospital sits on the side of a hill, with incredible views out over woodland. At seven storeys tall the building is entered at the mid level.
You are greeted by an open airy entrance space, with views directly into a landscaped courtyard which sits one floor below the entrance level. Someone had some fun with the reception desk, this sense of attention to detail continued as we explored further into the heart of the Hospital.
The elevated position afforded to the restaurant/cafe is a refreshing change to those buried at the lowest level of the Hospital. The interior finishes were more akin to a hotel restaurant, than an NHS “canteen”.
Then on to the eagerly anticipated 100% single bedroom, cluster model wards. The loose furniture is still to arrive, however the rooms “in the raw” are impressive. With large expansive picture windows, to make the most of the truly therapeutic views. Use of insulated panel side vents, help flush fresh air through the room. The slightly quirky feel to the projecting ensuite next door, softened after spending a few minutes in the room. The benefit of this simple move, is clearly evident, in that the patient can move from bed to ensuite without crossing the room, and assisted by a grab rail.
Another striking feature is the team’s approach to wayfinding, colour coding which works. Coloured curved glass boxes lead visitors to the main circulation cores for each peninsula wing.
The only disappointment is that in this age of cut backs, we may not receive the benefit of a full detailed study and analysis of the impact of 100% single rooms on staffing working practices, or on patients and their carers.
Rosemary Jennsen AFH Executive Member