Using timetables and flowcharts, the design team was able to deduce a schedule of accommodation and footfall channels

functional requirements of NHS Health Building Notes (HBNs) and Health Technical Memoranda (HTMs). A number of strategies were employed throughout the building to help achieve this.


The building has a curved L-shaped plan which resembles ‘hands opening’ at the entrance All images © Mark Hadden

This intended feeling is evoked almost immediately in the users’ journey. For the outpatient, the unit’s sleek and functional drop-off area, curved main reception desk and waiting area resemble a hotel entrance and lobby. For the inpatient entering the unit, the glazed footbridge enhances the feeling of arrival, giving the impression of passing an airport gate down the walkway towards the aircraft. Floor-to-ceiling metre- wide windows across both levels allow the interior to be saturated with natural light while linking to its green surroundings. “Artwork is integrated into the fabric of the building both internally and externally to make it feel less clinical,” explains Barlow. Artist Rebecca Salter was responsible for steering the artistic direction of the project. The exaggerated use of yellows and greens were avoided in decid- ing on the building’s colour scheme, due to patients’ concerns that the reflected light colour would make patients look more ill. The architects worked with “a limited, simple palette of colours and materials.” Ash veneer, glass, and concrete appear throughout the interior, while the exterior of the building is clad in a simple white Corian, referencing the off-white ceramic granite used to segment the facade of the original hospital building.

Colour printing on glass and timber

screens, along with the incorporation of decorative motifs into the wayfinding schedule for the building, all contribute to enhancing the building’s ambience.


Operational control features throughout the unit further contribute to the wellbeing and comfort of the patient, while ensuring their safety. In HTM guidance, because of the risk of user ‘defenestration,’ it’s normal to have to put a restriction on windows meaning they can only be opened to 100 mm, restricting airflow considerably.


The architects used a fritted pattern – inspired by Rebecca Salter’s artwork – on parts of the ventilated facade, laser cut into the Corian. The resulting grill obstructs the windows, therefore meeting guidance, while allowing fresh air to flow freely into the building. This also filters sunlight, as do Salter’s coloured glazing vinyls, creating a dynamic lighting effect which moves across the interior over the course of the day. The natural ventilation also gives staff maximum control over airflow and temperature, while brise-soleil fins on the building’s exterior regulate sunlight by providing shading, and frame views for those undergoing treatment. “You can control the environment and let light in,” Barlow summarises. Again, following the advice from the patient consultancy group gathered over a variety of physical mock-ups, communal treatment pods each consisting of four inward-facing chairs were purpose-designed to foster a greater sense of intimacy between patients. Partnering this, the ability to turn the treatment chairs to see the views, or enter private rooms to undergo care more discreetly, lend further options for tailoring the experience to support often very unwell users.

Sustainability also takes precedent in The Manser Practice’s design, which has secured a BREEAM Very Good rating. Sensors in each room automate the use of LED lighting for optimum efficiency, full- height windows maximise natural light, and flow restrictors reduce water consumption, all meeting the scrupulous parameters of the HTM guidance. With the unit now fully functional – it opened in June 2017 – feedback from both patients and staff has been overwhelmingly positive. A former patient said after visiting the unit: “I am speechless and blown away; this building has far outreached all of my expectations.”

The architectural community has also shown its appreciation for the unit’s design, as The Manser Practice went on to be highly commended for their work at the 2017 Building Better Healthcare Awards, as well as receiving mentions at a number of other events.

Bringing the unit’s design assets into alignment with its health support, a Macmillan nurse gave a clinician’s point of view, and a strong endorsement. “The build- ing encompasses the concepts of Florence Nightingale’s Environmental Theory: Light, Air, Warmth...Clean...and an environment that offers Hope and Advice.”


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