Premier Construction

New Orkney Hospital

Orkney Hospital
Written by Roma Publications

New Orkney Hospital – Transforming healthcare in the Orkney Islands


The Robertson Group are working with architects Keppie Design to deliver NHS Orkney’s new £64 million hospital and healthcare facility that will transform the way healthcare services are delivered in the islands. They will develop, build and maintain the facility for 25 years.

NHS Orkney is the smallest territorial health board in Scotland and is responsible for the health care of the population of Orkney, which is made up of approximately 21,500 people. The overall purpose of the Orkney NHS Board is to ensure the efficient, effective and accountable governance of the NHS Orkney system and to provide strategic leadership and direction for the system as a whole.

The new hospital, which is due for completion in April 2019, has been designed to put people first and make a positive contribution to the environment, local community and economy. It is predicated on ‘place-making’ to give the whole building a depth and level of design missing in many hospitals.

The design is described as a strong, contemporary building that is rooted in the culture and context of Orkney in general, but Kirkwall in particular. The materials and built form of the building and surrounding landscape will be simple, robust, easily sourced and maintained; all reflecting Orkney’s heritage and ecology.

The two storey hospital and healthcare facility will house a range of emergency, outpatient, day cases and inpatient services supported by high dependency, diagnostic and theatre facilities. In addition, Skerryvore and Heilendi GP practices and NHS Orkney’s dental practice will be located within the facility. All clinical areas will have video conferencing facilities to support more patients being able to access services in Orkney and to enable NHS Orkney staff to link to health specialists nationally. The 16,248 square metre building will also accommodate the Scottish Ambulance Service and provide a base for NHS 24.

The operation of the hospital and healthcare facilities has been continuously considered throughout the design process. The hospital services will be managed by a contract manager who will be supported by an in-situ team of Hard FM maintenance operatives to ensure the spaces are maintained professionally and to a high quality standard.

The building will have inviting internal and external spaces for the use and enjoyment of patients, visitors and staff and will include multi-functional conference rooms, seating areas, therapy garden, restaurant, shop, multi-faith area and children’s play area. Due to the buildings scale, the challenge was to split a relatively large building down into separate areas or districts, with separate identities, but unified as part of the ‘town’ plan. An interrelated series of ‘streets’ and spaces are situated along patterns of established movement, arranged around a single central hub. From the public space, wayfinding is easy and intuitive and the space is visually connected with external courtyards to further remove the traditional institutional associations. There will also be 320 car parking spaces on the site, which includes 10 electric car charging points, accessible parking and cycle shelters.

Delivering a major healthcare project in Orkney presents a unique set of challenges. To solves these, the Robertson Group have taken into account the remoteness of the island, supply chain logistics, local landscape and challenging climatic conditions, as well as specific archaeological and environmental considerations. For example, procuring and shipping construction materials to the island and storing them onsite well in advance of programme requirements will reduce the vulnerability of the project to extreme weather conditions.

Structural steelwork will be fabricated off-site wherever possible to enable speedy completion of the building structure. The envelope of the building is designed to take into account the available trades on the islands and to achieve an early wind and watertight position, thus allowing internal trades to progress despite inclement weather.

Supply chain procurement will be undertaken to maximise the use of local labour, services and materials in every aspect of the construction. Sub-Contract packages will be split into manageable sizes to suit the size of the island supply chain. This approach will mitigate some of the problems faced on large construction projects in remote locations, both benefiting the project programme itself as well as the local community.


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