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New Theatres

Sheffield Children's Hospital

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Completed in 2015, Race Cottam designed an extension to the Sheffield Children’s Hospital to provide two state-of-the-art operating theatres with one linked directly to an intra-operative MRI scanner suite partly funded by The Children's Hospital Charity. This specialist scheme [there are only a very few in the country] makes the intra-operative suite one of the most advanced operating environments in the country, if not the world.

The Brief

Due to increased demand for specialist and complex surgery in orthopaedics and neuroscience, the Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust required the provision of additional theatres. The new facility would enable neurosurgeons to undertake MRI scans actually during the course of an operation, increasing the accuracy and certainty of surgical outcomes.

The Design

Extending the existing building and connecting through to existing services posed the challenge of limiting disruption to live environments and maintaining continuity of provision. Due to site levels the project involved extensive excavation and piling work. To match in with existing floor levels with limited headroom, co-ordination and efficiencies of services and structures were vital to make the scheme viable.

Revit software was used throughout the project which was invaluable to coordinate the building construction and services and to demonstrate that the solution was deliverable despite the existing building and site constraints. The quick availability of 3D images from the earliest stages of the project greatly improved user understanding and stakeholder engagement.

The Outcome

Every element of the design of the new theatres suite was considered to make the experience less intimidating for children having scans. Ambient Experience Technology was incorporated which uses dynamic lighting, wall projection and sound to help young patients feel more at ease during scans. We worked with the Children’s Hospital Charity’s arts programme and artist Thomas Matthews to incorporate feature graphics on walls and ceilings and a mobile in the atrium to provide distraction and comfort. Apart from being intriguing and beautiful, the artworks provide a game that can be played by children, with their escorts, on the way to their operation, by spotting the animals– birds, fish, butterflies - hidden in the patterns.

In the neuro-theatre, multiple lighting systems with varying colour controls enables the light to be adjusted regularly by the surgeons. This innovation allows greatly increased visual acuity over the often long durations of complex surgical procedures.

The project was a success in terms of budget, programme and minimal disruption to sensitive activities but more importantly the attention to detail raised the project’s achievement in terms of staff and patient experience.

The building was Highly Commended by the Building Better Healthcare awards.