building, but just as importantly, find their way out.”

The fire station is attached to the building, located in its own space at one end – a conscious decision so emergency vehicle access wasn’t affected by patients visiting the centre, and vice versa. It also made sense from a design point of view explains Yeomans: “If the HFRS business case didn’t receive approval, there would be minimal redesign as the service wasn’t embedded at the heart of the building.” Although not integrated with the rest of the centre, the fire service still has access to shared facilities. “The aim is that the fire services get involved in the therapies wing,” Yeomans says.

Non-institutional Upon entering the building, patients are “immediately able to see out to the central courtyard,” Yeomans says, adding it’s “a very important factor”. As well as offering views out, this use of glass allows lots of natural light in. Rooflights also let further daylight into spaces. “The therapeutic and non-institutional character of the design is immediately apparent,” says Yeomans. “The planning logic of interspersing clinical and public spaces fosters a sense of reassurance and wellbeing. This is central to the experience of patients, staff and visitors.” To reinforce the idea of wellbeing, the practice made a conscious effort to reduce “the clutter of hospital fittings that often get fitted as standard – wall protection ‘rub rails’ for example,” says Yeomans. “By omitting these and concentrating on handrails we went a long way to getting away from the hospital feel.” Bespoke fitted furniture has been included in the reception and consultation areas, to “drop a note of solid quality into key spaces.”

Generous ceiling heights also played an important part in giving the building a less institutional feel, but these heights fluctuated due to necessary servicing and access requirements above the ceiling in places. “We strove to get the head space and daylighting where we felt it was most needed, in the deep plan waiting spaces for example,” he says.

The centre includes a variety of community spaces, including rooms which can be booked by local community groups. This, Yeomans says, forms an important part of the patient experience. In these spaces they’re able to share advice with one another, helping address the social issues of loneliness and isolation. “People coming


and going and recognising faces is an important part of the ethos,” he says. Other design considerations included grouping services to create integrated panel systems (IPS) – enclosures that sit behind washbasins, normally housing pipework. These are fitted with access panels, so they can also be used for storage of items such as patients’ belongings, helping keep rooms tidy while preventing pipework from being a “utilitarian intrusion”.

The centre is naturally ventilated as much as possible, although some treatment rooms required some from of mechanical ventilation. The centre has achieved a BREEAM Excellent rating, thanks to the design’s ‘fabric first’ approach, as well as elements including PV panels, LED lighting, and a sustainable urban drainage system. The building has also been designed with flexibility in mind to adapt to changing healthcare needs. The accommodation can be “changed easily as services develop,” says Yeomans, and “occupancy zoning” allows for certain parts of the centre to remain open when necessary while others are closed. Overall, due to the tight budget, Yeomans

admits “there is no great innovation at detail level”. He explains further: “The emphasis is on doing simple things well and getting the patient environment right.” Despite the limitations, the building has a clean, modern look, punctuated by a couple of features such as yellow-framed oriel windows, which help “communicate a structure and order to the linear form”. The modern theme is further enforced through the use of glazing in doors and screens.


Since opening in May this year, the centre has reportedly been very well received and has already made significant contributions towards reducing NHS costs and admissions. Alan Johnson, former health secretary and current independent chair for Citycare gave his view that this type of facility is the future: “I think this is something the rest of the country will be looking at very carefully”. Looking forward, the centre hopes to reduced unplanned hospital admissions by up to 20 per cent, which is projected to save the NHS £5.8m a year. “Overcrowding shows how acute hospitals deal well with trauma and episodic treatment, but are poorly suited for complex and continuing care of an elderly population,” says Yeomans. “There is a broad consensus in the NHS that a new class of infrastructure is needed, and the Jean Bishop ICC sets that new direction.” 


ORIEL WINDOWS The unit’s clean lines are punctuated by oriel windows All photos © Jill Tate 2018


Client: Citycare Architect: Medical Architecture Contractor: Sewell Structure & Civils: GGP Consult Services Engineer: Anderson Green Landscape Architect: One Environments

Building Control Approved Inspector: Morgan Wolf Acoustician: Hepworth Acoustics


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