Ulster Hospital expands its horizons

Nick Myall
Monday 24 Jul 2017

The largest construction project in recent years in Northern Ireland has completed at Ulster Hospital

Ulster Hospital’s new 30,000 sq m Inpatient ward block in Northern Ireland is the latest healthcare project to emerge from the multi award winning collaboration of Avanti Architects and Kennedy Fitzgerald Architects. 

The two firms were appointed by the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust in 2005 to produce a masterplan for the phased redevelopment of the existing Ulster hospital site whilst maintaining a working hospital for the local community at each stage of the development process.

The new Inpatient facility is the first building completed, and opened, as part of this major £261m redevelopment and replaces an earlier 1960’s building to provide up to date healthcare accommodation in an accessible, safe and therapeutic environment.

The six storey building provides a new Day Surgery, Endoscopy and Angiography department, a Cardiac Investigation Unit, a Pharmacy, a Public Café and 12 inpatient wards comprising 288 single rooms with en-suite bathrooms. The wards, located on the upper four floors, benefit from the design which maximizes natural daylight and views through generous glazing both in the bedrooms and in the connective spaces which help to create a positive healing environment for patients and staff.

"The design concept was driven forward together with the Trust," Project Lead Andrew McKeown of Avanti Architects explains: "One of the key features of the design was access to natural light, knowing the benefits that this brings to the patient and working environments.” The large full height windows ensure that all departments feel strongly connected to nature, providing views of fields surrounding the hospital site or generously landscaped courtyards with integrated uplifting artwork.

The new building provides 100% single rooms, arranged in clusters around staff bases according to the clinical needs of the ward, offering good infection control and high levels of privacy for patients. The arrangement allows patients to have views of activities happening outside their rooms enabling them to feel more connected with other patients and staff.  Early engagement with the Client team allowed a full scale mock up of the bedroom to be constructed and tested with the users prior to sign off. The result is a fully integrated modern facility, carefully crafted to suit the needs of patients, visitors and staff.

Andrew McKeown comments: “The client teams from the Trust and GRAHAM-BAM really were first class and that relationship remains strong on the second building which is now coming out of the ground. We are also delighted to be continuing our strong partnership with Kennedy Fitzgerald Architects, that has been in place since 2000” "These partnerships are helping us change the face of healthcare in Northern Ireland and we are proud to be a part of that." 

The next phase, housing more acute clinical services, is already underway and due for completion in 2019.

Director of hospital services at the South Eastern Trust Seamus McGorran commented: "This hospital is a state-of-the-art facility which can deliver the very highest health care and it is going to serve us for the next 50 years and beyond, so it needs to be of good quality, the single rooms mean we can afford more privacy and dignity to our patients. It can also help us with the management of hospital-associated infection by having 100% single room accommodation. So it is not a luxury - it is an absolute need.”

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