The project is in Cohort 2 of the New Hospitals Programme, the plan by NHS England & NHS Improvement to see 40 new healthcare facilities built by 2030. Arranged around two large, landscaped courtyards, the new hospital will offer a range of facilities including outpatient services and diagnostics, an urgent care centre, a medical investigations unit for cancer services alongside a chemotherapy day unit, family health services, and a 16-bed rehabilitation inpatient ward.
Sited on the edge of Consett at a gateway to the County Durham countryside, the hospital will be ideally located to deliver modern healthcare services to the growing local community. The proposed site is located just 1.8 miles from the existing Shotley Bridge Hospital, which will be replaced as it requires significant investment to maintain the out-dated estate.
A proactive approach to health through active travel
Encouraging sustainable means of transport, the site masterplan and hospital building have been designed to create a new pedestrian and cycle link which connects with the Coast-to-Coast cycle route that runs adjacent to the site, and a new footpath leading from the town centre. A primary entrance at the front of the building provides access to the inpatient ward and outpatient departments.
Promoting wellbeing through connections to nature
A simple plan, arranged around a pair of courtyards, brings natural daylight deep into the heart of the building and offers almost all occupied rooms an outside view. The courtyard spaces, with landscape design by ONE Environments, feature planting which is rich in texture, form and colour, and have been designed with unique characters for different purposes.
The ‘Serenity Garden’ is accessible to visitors, patients, and staff, and features a mixture of open and semi-private seating spaces so people can rest comfortably with family and friends. The ‘Healing Garden’ has been developed in collaboration with the clinical staff as a private, therapeutic space available to patients and staff to aid and assist rehabilitation. Internally, biophilic design principles create an uplifting and non-institutional healthcare environment by providing direct and indirect connections to nature.
Providing civic presence at a human-scale
Sitting at the entrance of a wider site masterplan envisioned as a parkland, the idea of a ‘pavilion in the park’ was a key design concept for the new hospital. This is reflected in the human-scale building form, careful composition of a simple material palette, and a landscaping strategy that promotes biophilic interactions and a harmonious relationship with the site’s context.
County Durham is well known historically for the use of sandstone for important civic buildings.The predominant external cladding material is a textured, ‘multi’ light buff brick that is robust and has similar visual qualities to the local sandstone architecture. In addition, bandings of profiled glass-reinforced concrete panels are introduced to emulate the texture and solidity of stone in a crafted form. An undulating, perforated metal rainscreen is proposed as a crown to the top storey of the building, paying homage to the historic significance of the site as part of the former Consett Steelworks.
A long-term approach to sustainability
The hospital has been designed to achieve BREEAM ‘Excellent’ and adopts the NHS’s Net Zero Carbon standards as a guiding principle, minimising the hospital’s operational and whole life carbon footprint. Longevity has been prioritised over short-term opportunism; the facility is designed to be enduring, with the flexibility and adaptability to ensure the hospital can accommodate changing models of care and service delivery for generations to come. Source by Medical Architecture.
- Location: County Durham, UK
- Architect: Medical Architecture
- M&E Engineer: A.E. Robb & Associates
- Structure and Civil Engineer: Jasper Kerr
- Landscape Architects: One Environments
- MMC Consultant: Akerlof
- Client: County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust
- Year: 2022
- Images: Courtesy of Medical Architecture