Proposals for a new community hospital in Consett, designed by Medical Architecture for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, and sited on the edge of Consett at a gateway to the County Durham countryside, have been unanimously approved by Durham’s strategic planning committee.
The project is in Cohort 2 of the New Hospital Programme. Medical Architecture said: “Employing a holistic approach to health and wellbeing, Shotley Bridge Community Hospital provides opportunities for patients and staff to connect with the outdoors and benefit from nature’s therapeutic qualities. Arranged around two large landscaped courtyards, the new hospital will offer a range of facilities including outpatient services and diagnostics, an urgent care centre, a medical investigations unit for cancer services alongside a chemotherapy day unit, family health services, and a 16-bed rehabilitation inpatient ward.
Encouraging sustainable transport, the site masterplan and hospital building have been designed to create a new pedestrian and cycle link which connects with the Coast-to-Coast cycle route that runs adjacent to the site, and a new footpath leading from the town centre.
A primary entrance at the front of the building provides access to the inpatient ward and outpatient departments, while a pedestrian entrance on the opposite side connects directly with the new proposed footpath. These are connected by a central public concourse through the building, with a public café and clear wayfinding to all facilities.
A simple plan, arranged around a pair of courtyards, brings natural daylight deep in, and offers almost all occupied rooms an outside view. The courtyard spaces, with landscape design by ONE Environments, feature planting ‘rich in texture, form, and colour’, and have been designed ‘with unique characters’ for different purposes.
The ‘Serenity Garden’ is accessible to visitors, patients, and staff, and features a mixture of open and semi-private seating spaces so people can rest comfortably with family and friends. The ‘Healing Garden’, meanwhile, has been developed in collaboration with the clinical staff as a private, therapeutic space available to patients and staff to aid and assist rehabilitation.
Medical Architecture said: “Internally, biophilic design principles create an uplifting, non-institutional healthcare environment by providing direct and indirect connections to nature. As well as benefiting patients, this also promotes wellbeing in the workplace, and supports a positive culture of care.”
Designed as a recognisable civic landmark, the new hospital will sit at the entrance of a wider site masterplan, with the idea of a ‘pavilion in the park’ a key design concept.
County Durham is well known historically for the use of sandstone for important civic buildings. To draw on this, the predominant external cladding material is a robust, textured, ‘multi’ light buff brick with similar visual qualities to the local sandstone architecture. Bandings of profiled glass-reinforced concrete panels emulate the texture and solidity of stone in a crafted form, while an undulating, perforated metal rainscreen is proposed as a crown to the top storey of the building, paying homage to the historic significance of the site as part of the former Consett Steelworks.
The hospital has been designed to BREEAM 'Excellent’ standards, while principles of standardisation and repeatability have been adopted to optimise efficiencies and ensure future adaptability in the building layout. The project is also committed to utilising Modern Methods of Construction. Working alongside MMC consultants, Akerlof, the design team has adopted a framework of core principles, which include design for manufacture and assembly, and the use of prefabricated systems and offsite manufactured components.
Other key project partners include M&E engineers, A.E. Robb & Associates; structural and civil engineers, Jasper Kerr; landscape architects, One Environments, and planning consultants, DPP.