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News - November 2017

Raising the bar for design

Raising the bar for design

Consultation was central to the design of a new cancer support centre in Derbyshire, which brings fragmented services under one roof for the first time.

The £10m NGS Macmillan Unit at Chesterfield Royal Hospital was designed by The Manser Practice and, split across two levels, it gathers all of the hospital’s core and support services and positions them in one accessible area.

There is a combined treatment room at first-floor level with extended views of the Derbyshire landscape, linking to the main hospital and relevant departments via a new glazed bridge.

And a Macmillan information and support centre is located on the ground floor, greeting visitors as they arrive and leave.

The design team worked with a health planner, the clinical and estates teams, Macmillan, and patients from the very inception of the scheme to ensure their needs were placed at the core of the design.

In doing so, the unit combines an uplifting and therapeutic feel with an efficient and well-organised layout, developing and enhancing the way services are delivered and considering the patient journey, clinical timetabling and room occupancy.

Defining pathways

The architects also drew on their experience in the hotel and transport sectors to create a calm and well-planned environment with a welcoming entrance and clear and simple wayfinding strategy.

The complex project required them to work closely alongside a number of hospital hospital departments to create a detailed analysis of their schedules, defining the care pathways and identifying the optimum number of key clinical rooms.

This research provided the team with a deep understanding of the specialist treatment rooms required and the need for different rooms at different times, allowing the architects to create combined treatment facilities and to rationalise the building’s use by 30%, creating a more-sustainable and efficient design.

Carly Starkey, lead chemotherapy nurse at the NGS Macmillan Unit, said: “The treatment area has a calming nature where patients can sit comfortably and look out at the view while receiving their treatment.

“We have more than tripled the number of treatment chairs but, even at busier times, the treatment area remains peaceful, with plenty of space and natural light.”

The patient journey

The unit is also one of the first buildings in the UK to be clad in Corian, chosen for its clean contemporary look and because it is malleable, robust and low-maintenance.

The material can be thermoformed, jointed and laser cut, enabling the use of fins across the building’s curved façade, and also the artwork and detailing worked into the vent panels and louvres.

In addition, Corian has been applied internally to create a strong link between the spaces.

And artwork has played a key role in the overall design.

Elizabeth Devas, capital projects design and commissioning officer at Macmillan Cancer Support, explains: “While Macmillan sets great store by integrated art and design; I think the integration of the art, branding, interior design and architecture and landscape in this project has raised the bar.

“The patient journey is at the heart of Macmillan projects and in the development of this building it was examined in forensic detail.

“On this project a new approach was used to translate the health planning into a layout which was to map the existing patient journey diagrammatically and timetable the clinical and other activities in the building. This has since become part of our toolkit for developing projects.”

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