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RIBA Awards 2013: Health

As we continue to reevaluate our perception of longevity and cancer, it’s unsurprising that two of this year’s national award winners for health projects exhaustively explore typologies, if not invent them

AHMM’s North London Hospice day centre looks and feels domestic - on a grand scale externally, with more intimacy within - but, because it eschews residential pastiche in its detail, it is an environment that uplifts visitors’ spirits, rather than patronising them. Hopkins’ Macmillan Cancer Centre, supreme winner at October’s British Construction Industry Awards, is an outpatient facility for a new era in which cancer is more likely to be seen as a treatable disease than a taboo. The level of architectural quality and technical innovation in both buildings is an inspiration to users.

All seven 2012 RIBA Awards for health buildings, including three regional awards, went to projects outside London, so the pendulum is on the backswing.

North London Hospice, London N21, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris


This charity-run day-care hospice (AJ 07.03.13) takes the form of an oversized house on three levels. The building provides workshops, creative therapies and clinical appointments, as well as a hairdresser’s salon, rest room and large open-plan kitchen for outpatients suffering from a wide range of terminal diseases. The architects have broken the mould of palliative care in adopting a familiar domestic language, in the building form as well as in the choice of materials, resulting in a calm, caring environment.

Akerman Health Centre, London SW9, Henley Halebrown Rorrison


This health centre (AJ 07.03.13) is a highly rational and efficiently organised building. Internally, spaces are efficient and functional. A relatively shallow plan ensures good access to light, natural ventilation and views to the surroundings. The consultation rooms are clearly expressed along its front elevation. Careful selection and treatment of the exterior palette of materials not only give the building an ability to deal with the everyday ebb and flow, but also impart a timeless quality.

UCH Macmillan Cancer Centre, London WC1, Hopkins Architects


This outpatient building (AJS 03.13) is the first phase of Hopkins Architects’ masterplan for the UCL campus. The entrance is conceived as a large lounge containing a coffee shop and mini-market. A central atrium helps those unfamiliar with the building to navigate efficiently. Treatment and consultation rooms are arranged logically around the atrium with one department per floor. A glass roof garden provides external space for all users. It is well-judged and an excellent precedent for future healthcare.

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