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Avanti Architects completes new facility for Ulster Hospital


To mark World Health Day, we look at this new 30,000m² in-patient ward block in Belfast, which opened this week

The block is the first phase of the extensive £261 million Phase B Redevelopment Programme at the Ulster Hospital, replacing an existing hospital, which was 50 years old and no longer fit for purpose.

Donal McCann 3750


Source: Donal McCann

Avanti Architects, in association with Kennedy Fitzgerald Architects, was appointed in 2005 by the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust to produce a masterplan for the phased redevelopment. It developed a strategy for the continuing replacement of the original hospital in two further major phases of construction.

The six-storey ward block provides 12 in-patient wards comprising 288 single rooms with en-suite bathrooms. The wards are located on the upper four floors and maximise natural daylight and views. Integrated services at the bed-head. Built-in storage and wardrobe facilities also provide a clear, modern room environment, which reduces clutter and is easier to maintain and clean.

Level 2 accommodation provides a new day surgery, endoscopy and angiography department, a cardiac investigation unit, a pharmacy and a public café, with main public circulation located on Level 1.

The building has a concrete frame with flat slab construction to maximise future flexibility.

Ward accommodation is expressed through large areas of curtain walling with either transparent glazing or back-coloured glass spandrel panels. This extensive use of glass unifies the curtain wall areas, giving the appearance of a seamless glazed surface within a light ceramic tiled rainscreen frame.

The ward block and surrounding buildings enclose generously landscaped courtyards, which provide good light levels and views. Internally, the choice of materials and colours creates different identities for each department. This assists with wayfinding and orientation for all users.

This new building provides the local community with modern healthcare services in a facility that creates an accessible, safe and therapeutic environment. 

Architects’ Statement

“With 100% single rooms, the design of this element was fundamental to the success of the ward plan. Early engagement with the Client team allowed a full scale mock up to be constructed and tested with the end users prior to sign off. The rooms maximise natural daylight and views through generous glazing both in the external wall and in the ward corridor which help to create a positive healing environment for patients and staff.”

Andrew McKeown, associate director, Avanti Architects

Project data

Start on site 2013
Completion 2016
Gross internal floor area 30,000m²
Gross (internal + external) floor area 62,420m²
Procurement method Traditional (Performance Related Partnering)
Construction contract GC works with quantities 1998
Construction cost £86 million
Construction cost per m² £2,866
Architect Avanti Architects in association with Kennedy FitzGerald Architects
Client Strategic and Capital Development, South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust
Structural engineer Morgan Sindall Professional Services
M&E consultant Cundall
Quantity surveyor Capita Property & Infrastructure
Fire consultant RPS
Landscape consultant Gillespies
Acoustic consultant RBA
Façade access consultant WSP
Project manager Avanti Architects
CDM coordinator Eidetic
Approved building inspector Local authority – building control
Main contractor Graham Bam Healthcare Partnership joint venture
CAD software used Autocad ADT
Annual CO2 emissions 97.14kg/m²


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