Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

RCA students take just five days to build timber drop-in centre


Students from the Royal College of Arts’ (RCA) School of Architecture have revealed the first shots of a new 40m² workspace and drop-in centre at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington

The ‘studio’ structure was fabricated off site, transported in two halves and constructed on the ‘demanding’ west London plot in just five days.

The Healthcare Innovation Exchange centre - known as the HELIX - was designed by MA students Ralf Alwani, Joanna Hyland and Matthew Volsen as part of the RCA’s ongoing programme of live projects.

The building’s supporting frame and internal ‘bookcase’ is made from 40mm Kerto (laminated veneer timber) ribs fixed into a timber stress skin raft with steel connections.

This ribcage is clad in two layers of glass, held in place ‘by engineered, slotted, solid oak glazing bars’.

According to the students, the new ‘hub’ operates an ‘open-door policy, inviting healthcare staff to participate in a programme of training, workshops and seminars’.

Adrian Friend, senior tutor in Architecture at the RCA said, ‘In the Helix Centre project we tested the application of digital manufacture as a design tool to raise the quality of the architecture and make an end product that epitomises beauty and exudes precision yet is affordable and quick to construct – an approach that mimics how the Helix Centre will optimise healthcare innovation.’ 

RCA's HELIX scheme at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington - plan

Project data

Architects: Ralf Alwani Matt Volsen Joanna Hyland , Royal College of Art, School of Architecture
Location: St Mary’s Hospital Paddington London
Type Of Project: workspace/drop-in centre  - Healthcare, Bespoke
Structural Engineers: AKTII
Project Architect: Ralf Alwani, Matt Volsen
Design Team: Ralf Alwani, Joanna Hyland, Matt Volsen
Client: Imperial College, Royal College of Art
Funding: NHS TRUST and Private
Tender date: Sep - 2014
Start on site date: 15 Dec
Contract duration: 1 month
Gross internal floor area: 40m
Form of contract and/or procurement: Design and Build – Imperial College Procurement
Total cost: Undisclosed        
M&e consultant: Max Fordham
Quantity surveyor: Gardiner and Theobald
Planning supervisor: DP9
Main contractor: Millimetre



Readers' comments (2)

  • What a fabulous scheme!! Well done to all concerned.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Absolutely brilliant - what a great testament to the power of the 'live project'. Stunning!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.