Creating A Peaceful Space

17th November, 2021

The Green at St Richard’s Hospice has been designed to provide a central courtyard at the heart of the hospice where patients, carers and their families can meet each other and relax, and sports a superb gridshell roof structure.

Through years of planning the main aim of this project was to create a hub for families to meet with their loved ones. The Green is surrounded by state-of-the-art living therapy rooms which provide patients and their families all the support they need. Working together with Speller Metcalfe and Associated Architects, Constructional Timber was tasked with the manufacture and supply of this amazing structure. 

The Green has been designed to provide as much natural light as possible to assist in making the area a vibrant and upbeat one. The cluster columns used are around 5m tall and are connected using four glulam columns using both carpentry and mechanical fixings. The ‘concealed’ joints in the connections were all fabricated using galvanised mild steel and preassembled prior to delivery. This decreased the installation time and minimised any potential misalignment during erection. The roof’s coffered timber frame pattern was carefully transposed onto the internal floor finishes below, where interlocking timber planks are arranged in a matching pattern to create a visually coherent interior.

With the hospice being a quiet and sensitive area, the choice to construct this building out of timber meant that this could be prefabricated offsite prior to installation. Therefore, minimising disruption for the patients and their families. One reason behind the project was to promote sustainability, all the timber used in this project was 100% PEFC-certified. The environmental benefits were important to the client and the aesthetics of the material helped in visualising their eco-friendly approach. This in combination with the natural light opens the space and creates a bright and vivid environment.  

The grid shell glulam structure utilises natural light where possible which assists in bringing out the natural colours in the timber. While drastically reducing energy costs as there is less need for artificial lighting. The client chose glulam as the energy required from to produce it is a fraction of the cost in comparison to steel or concrete. This goes the same for the carbon footprint/impact left by the structure, the customer requested the use of carbon neutral building products which were portrayed in this scenic structure.

The structural timber solution used for this project is not only a highly sustainable material, but it has enabled a distinctive and inspiring environment to be created, in an economically viable manner. The brief demanded a space that was appropriate for the sensitive nature of the hospice’s work, therefore there was a focus on creating ‘gentle architecture’ with minimal architectural noise. In addition to its visual quality, the use of timber has enabled this to be achieved due to its versatility, properties as a construction material and sustainability credentials. The build also saw the glulam finished with a coat of Osmo 420 UV protection to provide enhanced resistance to weathering during the installation process.

Noise reduction, underfloor heating and filtered air-handling ventilation all help to maintain a quiet, clean and sterile environment. The new building is extremely well insulated, to reduce both heat loss, carbon emissions and running costs, and to help maintain a comfortable temperature for all. St Richard’s Hospice Chief Executive, June Patel said: “There is a tranquillity and beauty in the design which has an instant impact on people the moment they step into the building. Understanding the needs of our patients was integral to the design – resulting in unseen but vitally important elements such as using low or zero volatile organic compounds throughout the specification.” 

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