Instrumental to the healing process

James Forryan
Wednesday 29 Apr 2009

New health facility takes inspiration from the finer things

The Waldron is located in the South London Borough of Lewisham next to a suburban train station. The Centre was commissioned by the NHS using private finance (LIFT). The Waldron comprises healthcare (four GP practices, ante / post-natal care, community dentistry, sexual health and a flexible suite), fourteen apartments and four retail units. The health centre and three retail units were completed in Phases I & II. Phase III (the apartments and other retail units) remains incomplete because of the commercial climate.

The scheme is planned around a new square opposite the train station and framed by the entrance to the health centre, a café, optician, pharmacy and dentist. These along with undercroft parking and plant at ground floor shield much of the clinical space from the public.

Clinical suites are arranged in two wings- one north, one south- around a central 5-storey foyer. The plan is best understood from the patient perspective as a simple journey through five types of space from the square via the foyer, ambulatory and waiting room to the clinical room. Each wing has two clinical clusters and is planned around a garden or terraced court.

The building employs a concrete frame that is exposed for thermal mass for natural ventilation. The massing is carefully controlled. In choosing to clad the Centre with lacquered timber veneer panels we sought an association with a fine piece of furniture or a musical instrument. Louvres on east and west elevations act both as solar protection and acoustic baffles- made from the same timber they suppress the repetitive windows.

The Centre was awarded Building Better Healthcare (CABE) Primary Healthcare Building of the Year 2008 and was runner-up in the 2009 LIFT Awards. It achieved a NEAT 'Excellent' environmental rating, andthe CABE Design Review Panel commented: "In our view this scheme is noteworthy for its originality and the quality of its design."

Design team: landscape architect Landscape Projects, structural engineer Price & Myers, environmental engineer WhitbyBird and cost consultant Davis Langdon.

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