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FIRST LOOK

Squire & Partners completes Noah’s Ark children’s hospice

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Squire & Partners’ Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice in Barnet, north London, opened last week (Thursday 26 September) in a ceremony attended by London Mayor Sadiq Khan

The 2,200m² facility has been designed specifically to support children with life-threatening conditions and their families and is the first new hospice built in London for 10 years. 

The design features wings that give every room direct access to the surrounding 30,400m² nature reserve on the northern edge of the borough. Barnet Council granted planning permission for the hospice off Byng Road at the beginning of 2017.

Accommodation includes an oak-framed hall, multi-faith room, childrens’ bedrooms and family rooms. The facility will provide on-site care and support for more than 450 children with life-threatening conditions and their families in a ‘home-from-home’ environment.

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Establishing a relationship with the surrounding nature reserve was a priority in the brief and so the building is slightly sunk into the hillside, creating a single-storey entrance with lower ground floor to the rear. In plan it butterfly-shaped, with landscaped gardens stepping down between each of the four wings.

Each room has a direct link to the outdoors via either large windows and doors or openable timber panels.

A palette of muted materials includes textured brick and an exposed timber structure, with colour added by furniture. Downlighters and pendant lights create warm tones.

The double-height central hall is framed in oak with fully glazed entrances at each end, creating a large, airy space for socialising. Off this run the four wings, which include a section each for therapy, children’s bedrooms, families rooms and administration. At lower ground level there are bereavement suites, a multi-faith room and staff facilities.

All bedrooms for children and families have poster boards and desk spaces that can be personalised. Beds and mobility equipment can be moved throughout the building and onto large, south-facing external decks.

A bio-solar green roof with 185 PVs help generate significant amounts of electricity for the building. A surface draining system harvests all rainwater allowing the green roof to mitigate flooding risk on the sloping site and reusing water within a landscape irrigation system.

Collaborators in the hospice’s design, property and construction sectors have been involved throughout all stages of development, making the project possible by working on either a pro bono or non-profit basis and supplemented by donated and discounted products for the build.

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Architect’s view

Once we discovered the wonderful work Noah’s Ark was doing for families in North and Central London who were dealing with an unimaginable situation, the decision to support them in designing a new hospice building was easy. The team at Noah’s Ark focus on bringing joy into the children’s lives. We wanted to create a building which amplified that experience.

Our concept always focused on the experience of a child, creating a building set into the landscape with wings like outstretched arms which invite families into the heart of the building with a double-height timber-framed central hall full of light and life.

Squire & Partners are extremely proud to have been involved in the conception and delivery of The Ark, and have truly enjoyed working with Ru and his amazing team to help the charity realise their ambitions to care for children and provide support for their families.

Murray Levinson, partner, Squire & Partners

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Landscape designer’s view

As designers we have a huge responsibility to deliver high-quality environments that facilitate the connection between people and place, and improve their physical, psychological and social wellbeing. Understanding the stress that clinical environments can cause, the landscape at Noah’s Ark was designed to provide a safe and restorative outdoor setting where the children and their families find respite and comfort.

Noah’s Ark will offer a holistic indoor-outdoor care journey that is not restricted to treatment rooms but that begins upon arrival, expands through the building and continues to the therapeutic gardens, demonstrating the ultimate link between palliative care, wellbeing and nature.

Alicia Gomez, associate, Gensler

37 noahs ark squire&partners ground floor plan

Ground floor plan

Client’s view

It is wonderful that our families’ vision has been realised for a children’s hospice in North London filled with life and light. It’s an iconic building and the perfect environment for children to receive their care and for families to receive support.

The building, construction and property industries have been inspirational in enabling this project to reach completion. It’s rare that such diverse industry bodies work together, but we’re extremely grateful that they’ve enabled us to build The Ark, the children’s hospice London has been crying out for.

Ru Watkins, chief executive, Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice

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Proposed bay study

Project data 

Start on site date Summer 2017
Completion date
September 2019
Gross internal area 2,200m²
Client Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice
Client advisors Pears Property
Architect Squire & Partners
Interior design LOM architecture and design
Landscape architect Gensler
Planning consultant Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL)
Project management JLL
Structural engineer Ramboll
Electrical constractor GEM
Mechanical consultant KUT
Quantity surveyor RPS
Main contractor 8Build
External groundworks BTR Building Services

51 noahs ark squire&partners central timber details

Structural diagram

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Very impressive, and the sometimes awkward triangular spaces thrown up by the butterfly plan seem resolved well. The central space actually reminds me of a medieval hospital, such as Chichester.

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