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DC CABE: Alder Hey designs are 'over complex'

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Design Council CABE has criticised BDP’s designs for the £237 million redevelopment of Alder Hey Children’s Hospital as ‘over complex’

The design watchdog said aspects of the practice’s high-profile plans for the Liverpool hospital required further work.

BDP is part of the Acorn consortium selected earlier this year to build a replacement hospital next to the existing site, which will be demolished and turned into green space.

The 60,000m² scheme will feature 270 beds and 16 operating theatres, alongside a 1,200 multi-storey car park.

But the Design Council CABE design review panel said: ‘The resolution of the design requires further work to make the most of its potential.

‘Currently, the overly complex elevational treatment undermines the clarity of the original design concept; for example the mixture of facetted and rectilinear colourful pods protruding from the façades distract from the cliff-like elevation rising out of the ground.

‘We urge the design team to have another look at the detailing, particularly the joints between the concrete panels, the repetition and colour patterns of the panels and the metal capped parapet.’

In response BDP project director Benedict Zucchi said: ‘Overall the report on our design for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital was overwhelmingly positive. We are pleased they applauded the client in particular for their commitment to the ambitious architectural approach.

He added:’This is an inevitable stage to go through in refining the design and we are in fact already in the process of implementing some of the constructive points raised in the report. We are looking forward to progressing with this important project and producing a very distinctive hospital that capitalises on what is a very unique site.’

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Other design review panel comments

  • ‘It would be disappointing if the public part of the park fell short of the ambitions of Alder Hey. We think that some elements of the park design should be improved, for example the swathe of hard landscape on either side of the building to form a softer transition between the park and the hospital. A more detailed landscape plan to illustrate the design would be helpful.’
  • ‘Currently, the bereavement garden appears to be a residual space dictated by the needs of highway engineering. We suggest developing a more compelling design rationale for the garden, perhaps as a proper walled garden, successfully screened from the surrounding noise.’
  • ‘We urge the design team to have another look at the detailing, particularly the joints between the concrete panels, the repetition and colour patterns of the panels and the metal capped parapet. The wide silver band of the capping diminishes the strength of the cliff edge against the sky whereas a simple concrete edge would be more convincing, and most importantly, truer to the concept.’
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