16th July 2018
Based in Newcastle for over 28 years, Dunwoodie Architects has a proud history and a well-earned reputation, predominantly in the supply of architectural services to NHS Trusts and healthcare providers throughout the country. When Dunwoodie Architects merged with Swift Architects in December 2017, it was with the deliberate and well-considered intention of broadening the sector base and appeal of the practice.
Now led by Peter Swift and Laura Ruxton, the practice’s diversification plans have born early fruit with their major involvement with the high-profile STACK leisure village in central Newcastle, which is due for completion this summer.
In addition to this, Peter and Laura have also expanded the reach of the practice overseas, and are currently working directly with the Maltese Government on a new 35,000msq standalone Outpatients Department at the Mater Dei hospital on the island.
It is one of the largest acute and general teaching hospitals in Europe, having 825 beds and 25 operating theatres.
Laura, who is leading the team on the Mater Dei project, says: “We have made numerous visits to Malta this year in order to work closely with the client on their vision to create a centre of excellence in the provision of effective and efficient acute patient-centred care. We are also advising them on designing fit for purpose spaces that will allow greater opportunites for enhanced teaching, research and innovation.”
One of the key issues the Outpatient department has is overcrowding, which is causing congestion in corridors for both patients and staff, increasing issues with the fragmentation of clinics, and patient and staff pathways. Dunwoodie Architects are now creating a state-of-the-art 21st century hospital building that responds to evolving requirements, which will enhance patient care and satisfaction, as well as increasing operational efficiency.
The Government wants to be prepared for future trends in healthcare, as well as demographic shifts. It is therefore a crucial requirement that the form must follow the need, rather than having to adapt the clinical operations to suit the constraints of the building.
“We have had to adapt our usual way of designing and interpreting healthcare buildings,” Laura explains, “in order to respond to the intrinsic values and traditions of the Maltese people.
“For example, large groups of family members accompany patients to appointments. This is something that we are unfamiliar with in the UK and requires the inclusion of much larger waiting and sub-waiting areas, which then have a consequential impact upon adjacent areas and clinical facilities.
“Healthcare design is not just about providing clinical facilities, it needs to respond and be customised to the user group that it serves in order to create spaces where people feel at ease and that can offer a welcoming environment in situations that can be stressful, such as illness and grieving.”
Having succesfully completed the first phase of the work, the client is delighted with the work Dunwoodie Architects has done, and Laura and Peter are keen to progress to the next phase of work and to get involved in other projects throughout the hospital.
This work abroad adds to previous experience the practice has had working in Saudi Arabia, Canada and a recently submitted bid for work in India.