Full project details
The completion of Europe’s first ever hospital in a park has helped to reaffirm Laing O’Rourke as the UK’s leading provider of healthcare infrastructure.
Alder Hey in the Park, in Liverpool, cares for more than 270,000 young people every year and is one of the most sustainable hospitals ever built, with more than 50% of its energy generated on site. The children’s hospital treats everything from common illnesses to spinal, heart and brain conditions, as well as craniofacial surgery and intensive cancer treatment.
The project took 130 weeks to complete and is Laing O’Rourke’s quickest hospital build – 20% faster than any previous project. The positive lessons learned from this challenging delivery are now being applied to new healthcare schemes, such as Dumfries and Galloway and the Brighton 3Ts development.
Laing O'Rourke delivered the hospital as part of the ACORN consortium, with John Laing Social Infrastructure and Interserve Facilities Management. Our one-team approach, with Crown House Technologies (CHt), Explore, Select and Expanded, was fundamental in the success of the project. With a tight schedule to deliver the iconic design, collaboration was key to ensure the successful opening at the start of October 2015.
The project team also involved some of the children in the design process through the Young People’s Design Group, which influenced the unique appearance of the hospital.
The 270-bed children’s hospital features more open space in wards, en-suite rooms and views of the park and green landscaped areas for every child. It also features a giant indoor tree-house, outdoor play decks featuring fish tanks on each of the seven wards, a relaxation garden and interactive screens in patient waiting areas. In fact, the main reason why Alder Hey is so unique is because the children didn’t want the building to look or feel like a hospital at all.
Laing O’Rourke procured and installed all the state-of-the-art medical equipment that is now being used at the hospital, including Europe’s only intra-operative 3-T MRI scanner, which is pioneering technology for neurosurgery and reduces repeat operations in 90% of cases.
As well as being intrinsic to the construction process, digital engineering was also used extensively in the design phase of the project to allow clinicians to fully understand how the new building would look and function.
The use of Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) was crucial to the speedy delivery of the hospital, with over 15,000 components built off site, ranging from lattice floor, twin wall and pre-glazed external panels from Explore Industrial Park (EIP) to mechanical electrical and plant (MEP) modules from CHt’s Oldbury facility and bathroom pods from Modulor in Dubai. Digital engineering was also essential in the speed of information transfer between our design team and our manufacturing facilities. This proved particularly pivotal in the coordination with Expanded and EIP to design and track more than 12,000 precast elements, including the facade panels which give the building its distinctive character.
The unique appearance of the facade demanded a very complex manufacturing and delivery process. The panels were designed to resemble the red sandstone rock strata, which is prevalent in Liverpool, to create the building’s architecture. The facade components were also one of the largest sandwich panels ever produced at EIP, due to floor-to-ceiling height requirements.
The bespoke design of the building, with multiple architectural interfaces, meant additional pressures on the internal fit-out and MEP operations, as maintaining watertight dates were critical for commissioning commencement. Room-width glazed sliding screens, which incorporated interstitial blinds to every bed bay throughout the hospital, were also a first in healthcare delivery on this scale.
The clinical benefits of full visibility for patient care were matched by the complexity of procuring and integrating so much internal glazing early enough in the sequence to ensure subsequent finishing and commissioning activities were not compromised.
Seven months into the project, the NHS Trust gave the green light to adding a 10,000 sq m outpatients building into the scheme, introducing further challenges to the programme. The high-level open space of the atrium, which ties the outpatients building into the rest of the hospital, was a particularly challenging construction phase through the winter.
There is an immense feeling of pride among the team who worked on the project. More than 60% of the workforce involved were local to the area and understood exactly how Alder Hey has benefited young people’s lives.