CABE Press Release

Brighton children's hospital judged this year's best public building

09 October 2008

Contact: Tessa Kordeczka, 020 7070 6769

The Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital in Brighton has won this year's Prime Minister's Better Public Building Award. The award is sponsored jointly by CABE and the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) and is part of the British Construction Industry Awards.

Known locally as the Alex, the hospital has been providing pioneering paediatric care for 120 years. With three times the floor space of the old hospital and double the number of beds, more children can now be treated closer to home. The design of the new hospital has been praised for the hope and confidence that it conveys to patients.

The Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP, said:

'This is an outstanding achievement and I congratulate everyone involved in building the Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital, from design through to construction. The government has committed to providing the biggest construction investment programme for a generation to improve both the quality and sustainability of the buildings and environment where people live and work and where public services are provided. This award showcases what can be achieved when high-quality design is coupled with highly effective delivery. I hope that the Alex will prove to be an inspiration to other planners, developers and architects.'

The new PFI hospital was commissioned by the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust and delivered by Kajima Partnerships with designers BDP. Its success is a tribute to the client's unwavering commitment to quality, to the fact that users had a strong voice, and to the talented design and construction teams.

A complex brief required ingenuity. The design had to negotiate a difficult, tight site within the grounds of the Royal Sussex County Hospital and existing roads. Its nautical form with white concrete panels and bright bands of colour reflects its Brighton setting, and the sundeck play area commands panoramic views of the sea.

CABE chair John Sorrell said:

'The new Alex is a people's palace, and a sign of how far we have come. The quality of public buildings commissioned in Britain is now in a different league from the place we were 10 years ago.'

The design successfully responds to the needs of children and young people, their families and the hospital staff. They were fully involved in the project from the start, including through a Children's and Young People's Board.

The hospital is themed as a giant ark full of animals, with each colour-coded level representing a different habitat. The light-filled central atrium at the heart of the building provides a bright and welcoming reception. The 100 patient beds are arranged in single, two-bedded and four-bedded units - each with a sea view - to suit the mix of patients and allow increased privacy.

Furniture has been specially designed for children and every in-patient bed has its own pull- out bed for a parent. Family accommodation on the top level includes en-suite bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms and terraces.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals, said:

'Since our new children's hospital opened its doors in June last year it has gone from strength to strength. The teams who work at the Alex have always been committed to providing the highest quality medical and nursing care. Now they have the space, facilities and equipment to provide a vast range of clinical and therapeutic services in an environment skilfully designed to accommodate 21st century healthcare.'

Nigel Smith, OGC chief executive, added:

'The Prime Minister's Award recognises high-quality design but also effective delivery, including efficient procurement; good teamwork; sound financial management; whole-life value for money; and sustainability. The Alex, delivered on time and to budget, has excelled on all fronts. All public building projects should meet this standard.'

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