Using modular solutions to design complex healthcare estates
One of the largest teaching hospitals in the UK has benefited from state-of-the-art temporary theatres to maintain patient care while its existing theatres are being refurbished. Our team recently delivered a temporary modular operating theatres block at the Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC) in Nottingham which challenge the misconceptions that modular buildings are low quality.
This particular build was a high-quality design adopting modern methods of construction using a bespoke modular system. The result has been a new clinical space which has enhanced patient care and has also allowed the hospital estates team the flexibility to continue patient care while improving their existing portfolio, all compliant with contemporary healthcare standards.
Putting patients at the centre of healthcare design settings
QMC is a teaching hospital that facilitates more than 1,300 beds and employs more than 6,000 people. It is predominately known for its A&E unit and is a primary destination for the Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance for seriously injured patients.
As one of the biggest hospitals in the region, it was vital for us to understand the environment of the constrained site and a live working hospital with many severely ill patients.
We were tasked with delivering high-quality temporary operating theatre spaces to meet the needs of a healthcare environment, but also improve the utilisation of the department.Often the reconfiguration of existing spaces in older buildings can sometimes hinder patient flow and the way in which spaces are arranged and critically function. Often traditional hospital settings do not lend themselves to modern healthcare practices. The design of the new operating theatres has provided a more functionally integrated delivery of service and the associated efficiencies.
Working closely with the speciality modular contractor and the main contractor we were able to accommodate any restrictions in the early stages of the designs such as height, due to the transportation limitation of the modules and bridge clearances, and requirements of the technical standards for hospital design.
The functional flow of the department has improved, and efficiencies of the operations and travel time has been reduced for staff.
What are the challenges of designing temporary healthcare spaces in hospital settings?
Due to the restricted site, maintaining existing access to the building was critical, and as a result early consultation with the users including the fire department resulted in an acceptable design solution that did not compromise the existing building or any functionality.
We selected internal and external materials such as cladding in a Rockwool composite panel at the beginning of the design process to meet healthcare compliances, quality and durability and because of the proximity to the existing building.
To reduce the impact on the environment, we used sustainable measures including air tightness, material robustness and demonstrating a ‘fabric first’ approach – using the building fabric’s components and materials before considering mechanical or electrical systems. The location, scale and massing of the building needed to consider the surroundings of the hospital. Its visual presence within the site is minimal because of its low flat roofs.
Using BIM for early design consultations and development with the stakeholders, allowed the design to progress effectively with sign off on all spaces including component schedules and equipment. BIM was also successfully used in the design and development of the Cripps Health Care Centre. Overall the project design provides a more functional and efficient department that is a practical and pleasant environment for patients and staff.
The project team consisted of main contractor Interserve and modular supplier Actiform Group. To find out more about our healthcare projects, visit our projects page.