Evelina Children’s Hospital

London, UK

Conceived as a ‘hospital that doesn’t feel like a hospital’, Evelina Children’s Hospital provides a bright and spacious environment that is designed to be engaging, fun and exciting for children, who, more than any other patient, might feel fearful about their stay, while also delivering a functional, fully operational hospital. Evelina was shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize.

Challenge

Central to the new building is a vast open atrium, designed to create a warm, bright and cheerful atmosphere for the children, which forms the main communal area. It is overlooked by every ward in the hospital, with healthy natural daylight finding its way to every bed through the expanse of glass. Achieving the vision for the atrium was key in Evelina’s mission to create an open and welcoming environment for its vulnerable young patients.

Solution

As Evelina’s defining feature, the extensive atrium presented the structural team with fascinating challenges. In order to design such a large open space, with no beams and a huge glass roof, our engineers had to be truly creative. With such complicated geometry, we had to be in no doubt that our design would hold up in terms of structural tolerance, buildability and the effects of any movement of the building itself. The roof’s glass panels are attached to a steel diagrid structure, made up of diagonally intersecting ribs.

To further protect the hospital’s patients, our fire protection team developed a package of passive and active measures to save lives in case of a fire. While the open spaces created the best environment for the children, fire and smoke could spread rapidly and the expanse of glass, if it shattered, could pose a serious danger to life.

Our team of specialists designed in a smoke-sealed facade and toughened glass in the atrium, as well as life-saving sprinklers. The fire strategy was further strengthened by the provision of a specially designed entrance for fire engines at ground level.

Andrew Best, Project Principal

Value

Throughout the scheme’s development, Buro Happold worked closely with the architect, contractor and building services team to create a cheerful environment promoting care and recovery for some of our youngest and most vulnerable patients – while generating the innovative structural solutions our client required. Evelina won the IStructE Award for Best Healthcare Building in 2007.

Awards

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