Construction has commenced on the £60m redevelopment of Northgate Hospital in Morpeth, designed by Medical Architecture for NTW Solutions – Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust. Designed around the concept of a ‘village campus’, the new medium secure hospital at the heart of the development, provides a wide variety of indoor and outdoor settings for relaxation and activity, relieving boredom and lowering the risk of challenging behaviours and poor physical health.
The consolidation of services
The new facility is the catalyst to allow all secure services across the Trust to be brought together from currently dispersed sites, consolidated in a single, integrated secure centre of excellence. The redevelopment of Northgate Hospital will provide a total of 116 male inpatient beds, located in a combination of new and reconﬁgured existing buildings. The new-build element will provide inpatient accommodation for 74 male patients with a range of forensic mental health needs, including patients with complex personality disorders and / or learning disabilities.
A unique woodland setting
The eastern part of the site is covered by a broad area of mature woodland, which is owned and managed by the Trust. The steep topography of the site has created unique opportunities to exploit the visual interest of its natural setting. With land sale areas designated for future housing along the south-western and northern boundaries of the site, the masterplan nestles the new hospital into the south-eastern portion, surrounded by an aspect of trees on three sides.
A village campus that mitigates boredom
The overarching vision for the facility is to provide a ‘village campus’ focusing on the individual patient and staff experience, breaking down the accommodation into several buildings arranged around the site.
It is well recognised that in secure mental health units, boredom leads to challenging behaviours and poor physical health.
The campus has therefore been designed to ensure that as many spaces as possible, both inside and out, offer opportunities for mitigating boredom and provide a meaningful day for patients. This is achieved in a range of settings; from bedrooms to living spaces; sheltered gardens to open courtyards; and opportunities for both structured and unstructured activity and sports. This includes an outdoor ‘kickabout’ area and a sports barn.
Therapeutic environments for mental and physical wellbeing
The six wards are paired together and arranged around the large, shared recreation space. At the centre of each ward is a landscaped courtyard for relaxation and between each pair is an activity courtyard, marked out for exercise and sporting activities. This arrangement offers close access to a variety of different types of space with a focus on mental and physical wellbeing.
In each ward the bedrooms are arranged to face outwards, with views across to the surrounding mature woodlands. The majority of the day activity and living space is at the centre of the ward with easy access to the courtyards. Abundant daylighting, attractive views and a sense of spaciousness contribute to the therapeutic effectiveness of the environment and play an important role in patient treatment and rehabilitation.
Challenging the stigma around mental healthcare
The visual appearance of the new facility is extremely important and has a major role to play in reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness. A consistent and controlled palette of materials and architectural styles has been developed to integrate the building with the most recent additions to the site. The use of a Birtley brick ensures a robust material that is locally sourced, and provides a shared point of character to the nearby buildings. The deep red metal cladding provides a contrasting element of verticality in what is a strongly horizontal building. Source by Medical Architecture.