Health chief describes newly opened NHS centre by Maber Architects as an exemplar project

Health chief Sir Bruce Keogh has described a newly opened NHS centre by maber architects as an exemplar project.

Sir Bruce, medical director of the NHS, officially opened the Corby Urgent Care Centre in Northamptonshire, and challenged people to visit the building to see future the shape of the health service.

He told guests at the ceremony:

“The UCC has good architecture that makes people feel at home. It doesn’t feel like an NHS building. The NHS is under scrutiny to see how we will make improvements. My challenge to others is to visit this centre and see how it’s done.”

The “exemplar” centre differs from similar projects, even those built recently, with facilities for observation of patients for up to four hours, relieving pressure on the A&E department at the main hospital in neighbouring Kettering.

The architects worked with the client, NHS Northamptonshire and NHS Corby Clinical Commissioning Group, and the project team to enable a rapid 11-month turnaround on a tight budget. Planning submission took place just two months after the firm’s appointment, and contractors were on site six months later.

With 1,750 square metres of floor space, it provides room and services for a wide range of diagnostic facilities – including x-ray and ultrasound – as well as a plaster room. Situated at the heart of a residential area next to an existing GP surgery, which is the largest in Corby, it will enable people to be seen nearer to home for a wider range of diagnostics and treatment.

The project is the first stage in major plans for new healthcare facilities at the site, which in turn are expected to act as a catalyst for regeneration of the whole area to the west of the town.

Maber has designed the £2.9million centre to be “future proof” with main spaces and services that can be adapted to meet changing healthcare needs, and consideration for the proposed second and third phases of building on the site.

Inspiration for its design has come from Corby’s industrial background as a steel town and the site’s woodland setting, with a metal framework embracing a natural timber structure. A double height, top lit atrium provides an airy entrance space while an internal street replaces the ubiquitous hospital corridors.

The building, which took 11 months to construct, has achieved BREEAM “Very Good” status for its sustainable design and construction, including attenuation ponds and photovoltaic panels.

Since entering the health arena three years ago, Maber has brought experience from the education and commercial sectors where its record includes E.ON’s newly completed Nottingham headquarters and the RICS 2010 Project of the Year, Derby College’s Roundhouse Campus.

“It has been a challenge, but we have been able to prove that we can deliver these difficult schemes,”

said Paul East, Associate Director at Maber.

“We were working on a live site with the neighbouring surgery open throughout, and dealing with multiple partners. We have tried to design something that doesn’t have a clinical feel so that it is a welcoming space while meeting the strict technical memorandums and guidance for healthcare projects.

“We brought best practice from other sectors, and additional services such as interiors, and I think that appealed to a forward looking client.”

The development of a high quality healthcare facility at Willowbrook is a key project as part of NHS Northamptonshire’s Vision and Strategic Plan. The aim is to provide fit for purpose facilities that are accessible and welcoming, and transform the delivery of associated public services so that they are provided in an integrated way.

NHS Northamptonshire’s Vision and Strategic Plan demonstrate an ambition to radically improve health and social care services. Underpinning the strategic plan are principles of quality, a commitment to commission safe, clinically effective care in clean and suitable environments, and to promote health and wellbeing.

  • Client: NHS Northamptonshire
  • Architects: Maber
  • Contractors: Kier Construction
  • Cost Consultants: CDM/Maber Project Planning
  • Structural Engineers: Curtins Consulting/M&E Consulting
  • Engineers: Couch Perry Wilkes
  • Transport Planning/Ecologist: URS Scott Wilson