The newly completed Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care at the Royal United Hospital in Bath will provide vital care for 500 premature and sick babies every year.
Jointly funded by the charity ‘Forever Friends’ and the NHS, the £6.1 million project comprised two phases. Phase One was the construction of a new state-of-the-art NICU which houses the ward areas and 21 special and high dependency care cots, whilst Phase Two was the refurbishment of the old neonatal intensive units and the creation of parent accommodation, office space and staff changing areas.
Main contractor for the project was VINCI Construction and the architect was Fielden Clegg Bradley.
The single-storey, timber frame building comprises an impressive 1000 square metres of space and is linked to the existing 1980s building by an ‘umbilicus’ that houses refurbished offices and high specification parent accommodation. Built to BREEAM ‘Excellent’ standards, the development includes a children’s play area designed by Cornwall based Boex and specialist light control to provide darkness and light for the babies when required.
Landscaping has included the creation of a small courtyard garden between the two buildings, although external works have been kept to a minimum in order to allow the local ecology to establish itself over a period of time.
Steve Boxall, Head of Capital Projects for the RUH, said:
“Parents spend quite a lot of time here, so accommodation is available for parents if they need to be near their babies. The rooms are designed to be comfortable and functional in order to ensure that the parents’ stay is as stress-free as possible.
“For Fielden Clegg Bradley, the design brief was centred on two things: sustainability and the patient’s journey through a neonatal intensive care pathway, which can often be quite traumatic. The building is designed around patient experience, which may not necessarily be the case with regards to other examples of NHS architecture.
“To create a sustainable building that meets BREEAM ‘Excellent’ standards in a highly clinical environment has been a challenge to say the least. In order to meet this challenge, we had to think very hard about things like sources of energy, construction methods and running costs. Through hard work and clever design, I believe we have managed to successfully meet this challenge.
“Other difficulties included a tumultuous winter last year, during a period when we were installing the timber frames. In addition, a small amount of underground asbestos was discovered at the site, which caused a slight delay. However, the timber frame from KLH made it a relatively quick build and we were able to get the structure up very swiftly.
“This project has involved intense collaboration between the clinicians and us as a project team. The construction team and the architects have been absolutely fantastic and the parents have also been involved throughout the project, making it a true team effort from day one.”