A constrained site with a complex brief and strict planning requirements for the aesthetics of the building, required thoughtful design and close collaboration with the whole design team. The new building has created a bright, modern medical centre that will benefit patients and staff alike, while fitting in with the more traditional context.
Wilson Health Centre Cheltenham, UK
The Wilson Health Centre brings together 3 practices from Cheltenham in a new, purpose built healthcare facility.
The existing premises for all 3 practices were too small, with no capacity to extend, and failed to meet modern accessibility standards. The practices had made previous attempts to find a new site before being offered the site on Prestbury Road by the local authority. While the site was constrained, the design aims to make the most efficient use of the space available to provide a modern medical centre with dentist and pharmacy, while still respecting the local vernacular.
With three different practices operating within one building, legibility for patients was a key consideration. Bringing the practices together also offered opportunities to share staff spaces, and offer a wider range of services within the same building.
The patient journey through the building is a fundamental consideration in the design of medical centres.
The main entrance is clearly visible as patients approach the site, with a secondary entrance providing direct access from the car park. Both entrances lead directly to a central area with self check in points, and a reception desk.
One of the innovations of this scheme, is to provide a staff member with a tablet as a “meter and greeter” in the central entrance area, who can help patients to check in or navigate to the required area of the building. More in depth queries can be directed to the reception desk, where full height acoustic screens are used to protect patient privacy. Another innovation is the use of smaller consulting rooms, reflecting the move away from in person consultation towards telephone and video consultations. Dedicated examination rooms are provided alongside the smaller rooms, giving doctors the flexibility for these rooms to be used for traditional consultations when required.
The building form is comprised of a number of gables separated by recessed sections of glazing, breaking up the mass of the building and reflecting the traditional pitched roof vernacular in the local area. A mix of brick, timber and render are used for the elevational treatments, with brick and render again tying the building to its context, while the timber softens it impact on the streetscene.
As a healthcare building, sustainability and longevity were important design considerations.
High levels of insulation, air source heat pumps and PV panels will help to reduce the energy required to run the building, and futureproof it against rising energy costs, while the use of robust materials throughout will reduce the need for replacement.
Sustainable drainage systems, and a planting scheme designed to encourage biodiversity have further helped the scheme to achieve a BREEAM Very Good rating.