Northern Ireland’s healthcare strategy is to centralise the most complex cases at the Royal Victoria Hospital.  Central to this strategy, the new 25,000m2 Critical Care Centre will provide a state-of-the-art healthcare facility, treating up to 80,000 patients per year.

AECOM was commissioned to design the £143 million Critical Care Centre as part of the on-going redevelopment of the complex Royal Victoria site, in conjunction with Capita Architecture.  Built on brownfield, the critical care centre is surrounded by a number of multi-storey buildings making the site extremely restrictive. This required a consultative approach to design and a phased construction programme in order to address the complex site infrastructure and utility requirements.  The centre will provide essential medical facilities including a new accident and emergency department, four operating theatres including two ultra-clean theatres, a 32-bed regional Intensive Care Unit including eight specialised source protection isolation rooms, a 50-bed maternity post-natal ward and maternity out-patients accommodation and plant.

The 12-storey building creates a community landmark. Polished ceramic panels and floor-to-floor glazing represent the high-tech clinical functions and the sterile environment. The upper floors, housing the critical care areas, are contained within a glass box expressing the advanced life-saving technology within. A pulsating blue light box creates a cityscape icon, mirroring the continuity of breathing.

The building expresses its internal functions in the powerful articulation of solid service cores contrasting with light and airy patient areas. Extensive use of glass creates a friendly, open and inviting atmosphere, with transparency maximised where appropriate in public spaces. A key design driver was to maximise daylight in the deep-plan areas and provide views out for patients, staff and visitors. A glazed corridor acts as family space and is separated from the clinical spaces, allowing separate access into the room for staff and visitors, affording privacy and dignity to patients and visitors.  The three upper floors housing maternity functions have a much warmer, reflective space through the use of colour and natural materials.

The project is rated as “Excellent” under the NHS Environmental Assessment Tool and was a pilot project for BREEAM for Health.