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Leicester Children's Hospital

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A new, state-of-the-art dedicated Children’s Hospital for the East Midlands, including the major refurbishment of existing facilities. The project is the first and largest stage of a consolidation of all services to a single site at the Leicester Royal Infirmary as part of a major investment by University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL).

The new development was built using modern methods of construction. It comprises three storeys with a link corridor at each level to integrate with the existing facility. Future plans will add an additional storey to the building, which has already been integrated into future phasing designs. In its entirety, the space comprises a new cardiac ward, outpatient and diagnostic department, paediatric intensive care unit, cardiac theatre, catheter lab, ancillary rooms and parents’ accommodation.

AFL performed full design and delivery of the works, including the exceptional interior design.

Our challenge – the consolidation of services within a transformational environment

A key challenge for the Trust was the scattered distribution of the various children’s services at the Leicester Royal Infirmary site, with Children’s Cardiac facilities (EMCHC) located at Glenfield Hospital, which is a separate site further out from the city centre. The EMCHC provides specialist surgery and treatment for children with heart conditions and abnormalities.

The team were tasked to prepare designs that met UHL’s sustainability and long-term transformation plans. All hospital Trusts around the country are being tasked with looking at the clinical need of the population they serve now and how they can make best use of existing facilities and resources.

The relocation of EMCHC from Glenfield Hospital to LRI brings together, in this first phase, maternity and children’s services under one roof. The co-location of all children’s services brings huge benefits to patients, their families and staff alike, reducing the need for multiple trips, and creating an identity for Leicester Children’s Hospital. The new development will also bring the Trust in line with the new cardiac standards and streamline staff workflows.

Creating a landmark children’s hospital with a striking, playful concept, built with modern methods of construction

The design concept is based on alphabet building blocks on a prominent corner of the Kensington Building extension. Lit dramatically with a halo effect, the letters create an iconic face to the new hospital - a landmark identity, befitting the state-of-the-art treatment within.

Externally, a modular brick slip system matches part of the hospital’s existing exterior while its offsite construction ensured programme savings and increased safety on this tight site. The facade gives the building a strong and clear identity and a friendly environment, with a fun and educational nature.

Currently the LRI is a mix of architecture, created as a result of organic growth over a number of years. The new development begins a process of creating a common identity across the site, whilst respecting the architectural language already in place.

The elevation design sets up a ribbon effect along the horizontal, creating a series of solids and voids. The primary building material is a single ivory coloured brick with a protruding horizontal soldier course creating banding at each level, which picks up the concrete/red brick rhythm on the existing building.

Leicester Childrens Hospital Interiors small AFL Architects 10

Futureproofing the estate, with considered and safe phasing

Much of the refurbishment has been carried out in a live clinical building which is operational 24/7. Part of the existing ground floor outpatient clinic space has been refurbished and connected into the ground floor of the new extension to provide additional space. The first floor of the extension creates two additional theatre spaces which run alongside the existing maternity theatre suite. The existing ward space on the same level has then been refurbished to become the EMCHC ward.

On the second floor, half of the existing neonatal ward, which forms the special care baby unit (SCBU) has been relocated to a refurbished ward on level five, allowing the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) to be transferred over.

The AFL team was able to meet these challenges aptly, bringing together their years of expertise in the healthcare industry. A future phase will add another storey to the development, securing its sustainable growth for years to come. The design is a result of high-quality planning and phasing, which ensures an effective and enjoyable impact on all patients, visitors and staff who will use the building.

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