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Build it. Beat it.

Architect Principal, Benedict Zucchi, explains how a new cancer treatment centre at Great Ormond Street Hospital is set to benefit children and families across the world.

The famous Great Ormond Street Hospital was founded in 1852 by Dr Charles West, who was driven by the shockingly high level of infant mortality in London. It was opened on valentines day that year with just 10 beds, and was the first hospital in the UK to offer dedicated inpatient care to children.

For more than 170 years, it has raised the bar for paediatric treatment and its work has precipitated vital advances in paediatric medicine and care, the impact of which has reverberated across the UK and around the globe.

In 2018, BDP won the commission to design Great Ormond Street Hospital’s new children’s cancer treatment centre. The resulting design is a crucial, innovative and flexible building that houses wards, a cancer day care centre, new surgical theatres, and an intensive care unit with the latest technology for pioneering medical treatment. The skill of the design team is housing all this in a patient and parent-friendly environment.

The design plays with ideas of ‘House’ and ‘Garden’, with conscious allusions to home life scattered throughout the building. It evolved from early-stage consultations with GOSH’s ‘Young Person’s Forum’, a group of young patients who chose ‘nature’, ‘home away from home’ and ‘indoor-outdoor’ as prevailing themes. Together, these concepts highlighted the desire for a safe, homely environment connected to outside space, as well as areas for play and interaction to provide respite from the clinical surroundings.

This comes together as an architectural triptych of ‘Houses’, including the existing red brick Paul O’Gorman Building, framed with shared vertical gardens.

At ground level a new entrance is provided to the building as well as the wider hospital campus (all to a masterplan vision by BDP). This provides a welcoming new foyer to GOSH’s Bloomsbury estate, visually and physically connected to the street (and city life), with a cafe and mini school for kids spending time away from home.

Above the foyer, the wards are organised in human-scale ‘Houses’ clustered for clinical efficiency. At the very top is a wonderful, rooftop garden for everyone to enjoy.

The project is a truly multidisciplinary effort. It shows BDP at its integrated best. Together the team has created a caring and uplifting place, a place that will save young lives and ensure comfort for people undergoing some of the most stressful experiences in life.