Visit to the New South Bristol Community Hospital

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The first regional Architects for Health event in the SW took place on 20th January, when a group of nearly 20 members visited the new South Bristol Community Hospital.  Designed by AWW, built by Carillion and procured through the Bristol LIFT initiative, the hospital forms part of the Hengrove Park regeneration project.  When it opens in April it will replace the old Bristol General Hospital and provide a range of primary healthcare facilities, including diagnostic and treatment facilities, a Minor Injuries Unit, day surgery operating theatres and 60 inpatient beds, as well as a new Dental Training School.  At the time of our visit the building was scheduled to complete at the end of the month, ahead of programme.

The visit started with a short presentation by David Perkin, Director of AWW, who outlined the challenges faced by the team, including working within an inflexible site masterplan, no end user for the hospital and change in construction methodology from modular to traditional when the design was already at an advanced stage, and explained the philosophy of the design.

The hospital is entered from a large piazza shared with the new leisure centre, under a soaring 3 storey high canopy flanked by feature lighting, leading to an airy atrium reception area.  Coloured panels in the flooring direct visitors to their destinations from the central reception desk.

The architects have made good use of the panoramic views across open ground to Bristol by locating the inpatient accommodation on the upper levels along the North East side of the building.   The day theatres and pre-op areas also have large windows with good views, which should to make surgery a pleasurable experience!

Each ward of 30 beds has 4 4-bed bays, rather than the higher proportion of single rooms more common now.  An indication of the length of time the project was in development.  An interesting feature of the multi-bed bays is the access to shower and wc, shared by adjoining rooms and accessed by an interconnecting lobby.  A solution which seems to present accessibility concerns due to the number of doors to be negotiated.

The elevational language is reminiscent of Bristol’s Victorian terraces, with a subtle gradation from dark to light grey along the length helping to reduce the overall mass of the building.

The building adopts a range of environmental design features and is predicted to consume 27.6 GJ/100m3/annum, 30% less energy than the NHS best practice benchmark.  Photovoltaic cells will supply energy to power the feature lighting around the main entrance and a mini CHP Plant will minimise energy wastage.

All in all, an impressive building which will no doubt support the regeneration of this deprived area of Bristol.

Mary Whittington

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