Project: Sheffield Children’s Hospital

Architect: Avanti Architects
Client: Datim and Arkoni
Total Contract Value: £40M


Sheffield Children’s Hospital has undergone a £40m redevelopment over the last three years to bring it up to modern standards. Construction work commenced in 2014 and completed in 2016 whilst the existing hospital remained in full use throughout the duration of the works.

This important intervention, combines new-build and refurbishment to provide three wards and an outpatients department, around a dramatic triple-height main entrance atrium.

The new building is a key move in the hospital’s vision for the future, helping to address a series of problems with the existing estate that impact clinical service delivery. The existing hospital is tightly constrained by surrounding roads and buildings, and has been developed in a piecemeal manner over more than a century, resulting in problems with clinical functionality, adjacencies, non-alignment of floor levels, fire safety, and a confusing and degraded internal environment.

Sheffield Childrens Hospital

The development:

  • replaces a significant portion of the poor quality existing departments with state-of-the-art facilities,
  • creates new linkages that facilitate the future phased redevelopment of the retained estate,
  • resolves the problems with access (both internal and external) that adversely affect the operation of the hospital, and
  • Improves the quality of environment enjoyed by all hospital users.

The site is partially within a conservation area, and close to a number of listed buildings, including portions of Sheffield University. The existing frontage, however, is highly disjointed, creating a confusing and unattractive first impression upon arrival.

Project Innovation
Extensive thought was given by the client and design team to how new thinking can better fulfill needs now and in future:

  • On wards, decentralised touch-down bases ensure that staff can position themselves at point of need
  • A multi-controlled natural ventilation system (easily controlled by BMS, staff, or patient) is installed throughout ward areas.
  • A bedroom window design has been developed with BetweenGlassBlinds enclosed adjustable blinds within secondary glazing, addressing infection control issues while facilitating ease of maintenance.
  • Modular planning of ward and outpatient areas has been used to simplify the process of adaptation to new uses in future.

Design Approach
The design has been developed to deliver a therapeutic and child-friendly environment:

  • Single bedrooms incorporate built-in furniture that accommodates functional requirements while looking homely and age-appropriate. E.g. careful design of the parent’s bed doubles-up as an informal seating area.
  • An innovative ‘t’ shape plan for multi-bed bays ensures that all beds in a 4 bed bay area adjacent to a window/light/views and fresh air.
  • Ward play areas are located within a ‘Play Tube’ suspended in the atrium, which both provides fun, non-institutional play space, and symbolically places children and play at the heart of the hospital.
  • Artists have been closely involved in the design, creating memorable experiences and diverting environments that are fully integrated with functionality.
  • New gardens and courtyards are created, and unsightly functions such as the service yard are relocated, benefiting users of both the new and existing buildings.

Architect competition

The designs for the new build were done through a competition in which six nationally accredited architects submitted potential designs.

These were assessed by a panel of 22, including staff, patients, parents, governors and directors, received presentations from the six companies and had the chance to quiz them on their designs.

They then used a comprehensive system to score the designs on six main issues including patient experience, clinical functionality and design – the most important factors.

Through a design strategy that wrapped a refurbished building with new construction, Avanti Architects design delivered more than the required brief of a new main entrance, outpatients department, specialist diagnostic and treatment areas, and wards: it created a complete new public face for the hospital.

The design focused on delivering an exemplary environment for all users, while resolving the current convoluted circulation routes and level changes.

Children and their families arriving at the hospital now enter through a light-filled atrium, at the heart of which is hung the sculptural ‘playtube’, which provides play space in a fun, non-institutional environment while locating children and play at the heart of the hospital. Ward areas have been carefully designed to deliver high standards of observation, natural light, and child-friendly interior design that is non-specific to age or gender.

This transformation incorporates a 3 storey extension with basement car park, a new service yard to segregate service vehicles from patients & visitors, a new entrance to act as a focal point for the Trust and refurbishment of the existing department at two levels. This transformed state-of-the-art facility now provides 72 bedrooms, many of which are en-suite incorporating family friendly facilities.


While searching for a suitable integral blind solution it was noted that the Trust required a number of units operable from both sides. BetweenGlassBlinds are noted for their innovative, versatile and maintenance-free integrated blinds which are ideal for healthcare environments as they meet the requirements for clinical infection control. The blinds also allowed the user full control of privacy, which was a priority.

The supply only BetweenGlassBlinds Tilt only panel offered a standard integral blind system with the ability to tilt the slats from open to close. The blinds are controlled by two discreetly hidden powerful magnets located around the unit perimeter.  The magnets control the operation of the blinds with ease and are fitted with a restrictor to prevent the magnets from coming detached from the panel.

Other reasons for the decision to install over 54 two-sided operation BGB units and 100 standard BGB units on the project were that the stylish design sees the blind sit inside a hermetically sealed double glazed argon filled unit, which protects the blind from damage, dirt and grime. Meaning the blind is hygienically excellent, never needs cleaning and is completely maintenance free.

John Reid, Director of Nursing and Clinical Operations, said: “We look forward to the exceptional facilities that will be offered in the redevelopment as well as the addition of suitable car parking for patients and visitors.”