The New Children’s Hospital for Belfast will be located within the Royal Victoria Hospital campus, on the site currently occupied by Bostock House. The proposed Hospital will consist of 10 storeys of clinical and support accommodation (administration spaces, staff areas, facilities management and ancillary spaces etc). The new building brings together regional paediatric facilities for Northern Ireland in a state of the art healthcare facility. Current paediatric facilities are distributed across several sites and are insufficient for increasing demand. The NCH is a 55 000m2 building, with 155 beds (compared to 97 beds in the current children’s hospital), 10 theatres, and an emergency department capable of catering for up to 45 000 patients per annum. 80% of the bedrooms will be single rooms with private ensuite facilities, and each ward will also benefit from social and play spaces, with parents’ facilities and separate staff areas.
The design for the New Children’s Hospital (NCH) will provide a ‘landmark building’, instantly recognisable and distinctive. The views into and out of the site, and the surrounding context of the Falls Road and the RVH site have informed the design and massing of the building. Critical clinical links to the new maternity hospital and critical care buildings, have dictated the location of certain departments within the building. The resulting building has a scale reflective of the surrounding context, with two 10 storey elements separated by a central atrium, and a lower plinth (and resulting terrace areas at level 5) which respects the scale of the existing buildings to the northwest, on the Falls Road and the proposed maternity building to the south east. Additional terraces at Levels 8 & 9 serve to further break down the mass of the building, while providing access to the exterior for patients, staff and visitors.
Going into hospital for any reason is not easy, and it is vital that the new hospital will not feel intimidating – it is important to minimise the institutional feel without compromising the clinical needs of the hospital or its occupants. Like any hospital, this should be a place of healing, and it is vital to ensure the patients and their families feel as comfortable and safe as possible throughout, what may be, some of the most difficult and frightening times of their lives. The provision of a choice of spaces away from clinical areas will allow patients, parents, visitors and staff the option to take a break, and also provides opportunities for social interaction. The atrium is the main social space within the building, aiding with wayfinding and orientation, providing waiting and play spaces, and bringing light into the centre of the plan.