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Competition: Alder Hey bereavement centre, Liverpool

Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, England, is holding a contest for a new £1 million bereavement counselling centre (Deadline: 13 March)

The RIBA-organised competition, for Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, will select an architect-led design team to deliver the new 310m2 facility, which will provide bereavement counselling for families who have lost a child, as well as a national telephone helpline and general counselling for hospital staff.

The building, says the contest announcement, will ‘provide a dedicated facility to meet the needs of this highly specialised and sensitive service, in which purpose-designed external space will be as equally an important feature of the successful design.

Liverpool, England

Liverpool, England

Alder Hey Children’s Hospital

‘The new Alder Centre will be a key addition to the Health Park Campus, whose design will need to reflect the quality of other recent developments on the site and the “Hospital in a Park” landscape setting.’

Alder Hey Children’s Hospital specialises in treating oncology and muscular dystrophy as well as spinal, heart and brain conditions, and is one of the largest of its kind in the UK and in Europe.

The hospital celebrated its centenary in 2014 with the completion of BDP’s £167 million Health Park Campus, which won won the UK Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award last October.

Liverpool, England

Liverpool, England

Contest site: Alder Hey Children’s Hospital

Eric Parry Architects, BDP and Heatherwick Studio with HOK are shortlisted in a separate RIBA-run contest for the next phase in the redevelopment of Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London. A winner is expected to be announced in May.

Commenting on the latest contest launch, development team project manager David Houghton said: ‘This is a unique and exciting opportunity to create a bespoke building of small scale but huge vision, which demands a sensitive response to its function and setting.

‘The challenge is to meet the building users’ aspiration that the new Alder Centre will be “A place like no other”.’

The new bereavement counselling centre will occupy a prominent plot overlooking Springfield Park which is currently occupied by vacated former hospital buildings due to be demolished.

Proposals should harness natural materials and ventilation, maximise daylight and aim for zero-carbon impact on the environment. Submissions must include a quiet space, helpline room, up to six counselling rooms, a therapy room, offices and a garden.

The judging panel will include four hospital trust representatives alongside a building user representative and Manchester School of Architecture professor Jim Chapman, acting as RIBA advisor.

Up to five shortlisted teams will each receive £4,000 (+VAT) to participate in the design phase of the competition following an initial expressions of interest round. The winning team, due to be selected in July, will receive the design commission.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for applications is 2pm, 13 March.

Contact details

RIBA Competitions
1 Aire Street
Leeds
LS1 4PR

Tel: + 44 (0) 113 203 1490
Email: riba.competitions@riba.org

Visit the competition website for more information

Interested parties must obtain a unique registration number online before applying

Maggie’s Oxford Centre case study: Q&A with Chris Wilkinson

The founder of WilkinsonEyre discusses lessons learned designing a specialist centre for cancer patients at Churchill Hospital in Oxford

WilkinsonEyre

WilkinsonEyre

Source: Image by Rob Greig

Chris Wilkinson

How did your Maggie’s Oxford Centre create a comforting environment for cancer patients and for people suffering bereavement?

At our Maggie’s Oxford Centre, the first thing you notice is the close contact with nature, with the building set amongst the trees. Large windows open on to a terrace, which, due to the sloping site, is level with the branches. There are rooflights flooding spaces with daylight, and floor lights that show the flora and fauna below. There is no formal reception desk, so visitors enter into a casual kitchen/pantry area, where you can make yourself a drink, take a seat and meet other people in a relaxed atmosphere. The staff see you arrive, but wait until you have settled down before they come and greet you. Although the building has an informal layout, there are a range of quiet contemplative spaces, activity areas and private consultation rooms. The aim of the design is to create a warm, friendly and uplifting atmosphere that is not clinical, civic or domestic in nature. It offers space for people to think and work through their emotions.

Oxford, England

Oxford, England

Source: Image by Ben Bisek for WilkinsonEyre

Maggie’s Oxford Centre by WilkinsonEyre

Which architectural, material and other methods did you harness?

In order to create a building that feels warm and friendly, we selected mostly natural materials, using an abundance of wood in keeping with the centre’s location. The surface materials are largely timber and glass, which helps to create the welcoming and familiar atmosphere; they are self-finished and easy to maintain. While modern, they will weather naturally and sit comfortably within the woodland landscape.

Oxford, England

Oxford, England

Source: Image by Ben Bisek for WilkinsonEyre

Maggie’s Oxford Centre by WilkinsonEyre

Spruce cladding treated with a silver/grey solignum stain will evolve as the timber silvers. The oak trellis feature, which provides privacy and shading to the glazing, will naturally silver; and the roof’s copper finish will gradually patinate over time. To avoid disruption to the flora and fauna on the site, the building is constructed using cross-ply laminated lightweight timber panels, which are erected on glulam timber columns fixed to concealed screw piles below the ground.

What advice would you have to participants on designing a specialist bereavement centre for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital?

The advice I would give to designers of the bereavement centre is to try to achieve an elegant simplicity with functional spaces, all in a calm but uplifting atmosphere.

Oxford, England

Oxford, England

Source: Image by Ben Bisek for WilkinsonEyre

Maggie’s Oxford Centre by WilkinsonEyre