Worcester-based practice KKE Architects have been commissioned to design the new Breast Unit for the Acute Trust at Worcestershire Royal Hospital. The new scheme will integrate the majority of the services relating to the treatment of breast cancer in one place for the first time, so that patients are treated in an environment designed specifically with them and their clinical and emotional needs in mind. Previously the services relating to this area were dispersed not only throughout the main hospital building but in varying locations throughout the county.
The practice won the commission after a challenging competitive process and because of their patient-centric design approach. This not only puts the patient at the centre of the design, but also makes the most of the unusual setting of the existing building, which will be converted into the dedicated breast unit, by maximising daylight and views out onto new landscaping and the surrounding environs.
The existing site for the scheme is comprised of a 25 year old, single storey, stand-alone building (akin to a large bungalow), which is set slightly away from the main hospital building in a quiet, almost rural, setting alongside Nunnery Wood. The new design will upgrade the outside walls of the building and replace all the windows to save energy. The whole interior will be completely redesigned to suit the various activities of patients, as well as the relatives and friends who accompany them and the medical staff working in the unit. KKE Architects intends to create an interior feel that is less clinical than in the main hospital, with colours and materials chosen to make people relax and as feel comfortable and welcome as possible.
“The key to the design” explained KKE Architects’ Director Vincent Kirk, “will be all about getting things in the right place to optimise both process and the flow of patients through
the space. We shall also be looking to use green technologies wherever possible and part of the brief is to achieve a Bream ‘very good’ status, which will be achieved through the use of, for example, a green roof for the building, photo-voltaic panels and possibly rainwater harvesting too. The building will also be super-insulated for the lowest possible energy usage.”
The building, with a new exterior treatment which will include timber and render, will be relatively simple and well-lit. ‘It will be all about daylight coming in and good views going out’ added Vincent Kirk. The design team will be looking to create landscaped gardens around the building which border Nunnery Wood, offering patients, staff and visitors a very private garden space for relaxation and contemplation. The landscaping is part of the overall brief and will be under the direction of KKE Architects’ Director and 2011 Chelsea Flower Show gold-medallist garden designer Olivia Kirk, who commented, “this is a wonderful site on which to develop gardens, which will have a positive impact on everyone coming to the unit. We will be able to develop a south-facing garden to serve as the focus of the building as a whole”