HOK was selected as the architect by Skanska for the £1.1 billion PFI scheme to simultaneously redevelop St Bartholomew’s and The Royal London Hospitals. HOK provided full architectural, conservation, interior design, landscape design and medical planning services for the scheme, the largest hospital redevelopment under the Government’s Private Finance Initiative to be carried out to date in the UK. The design successfully incorporates the original the Grade II listed London Hospital on Whitechapel Road which included the sympathetic transformation of the public spaces to unlock circulation on the site.
Key to the redevelopment of the site was the requirement to maintain 100% clinical functionality with minimal disruption for the duration of the construction works. A full review of the existing estate was undertaken allowing buildings outside of the development area to be released or sold while incorporated in their functions within the redeveloped hospital.
There are few more complex environments than modern hospitals. They are based on the creation of a cohesive treatment programme that puts the needs of patients first and responds to operational and fast-moving technological requirements. Hospital buildings must therefore provide logistical support for both the patient and the staff as they move through the hospital system. This requires a very well planned infrastructure, a suitable amount of space – and as much natural daylight as possible. Reconciling these key requirements with the character of the existing historic buildings and the adjacent conservation area was vital to the success of the project.
The work carried out at the Royal London is an exemplary solution to creating a modern public facing environment which reconciles the various functions and buildings and ‘makes sense’ of the complex and difficult site. Clear circulation and wayfinding strategy were introduced, with a new public entrance and the creation of a single public space from which key wards such as Outpatients and Children’s can be easily accessed. The strategy also made sense of the different needs in terms of public facing service environments for other different elements such as A+E and the offices contained within the listed building.
A wide range of consultations exercises were undertaken as part of the planning submission. The Royal London lies within a diverse cultural area and consultation was imperative to understand how the needs of local community and for them to help to drive the design.