Jun 27, 2017 Last Updated 3:06 PM, Jun 22, 2017

Off-site construction creates space for further development

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Off-site construction is increasingly being used to provide innovative building solutions to optimise space on the most constrained hospital sites. Here, Steve Newell, General Manager at the Portakabin Group, looks at a programme-driven scheme at the University Hospital Southampton which was on the critical path of a wider development.

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After less than five months on site, the Portakabin Group has handed over a £2m, four-storey scheme for office support staff at the University Hospital Southampton. This was to create space for further development to the benefit of the local community and front-line patient services.

The University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust provides healthcare services to around 1.9 million people in Southampton and South Hampshire, and specialist services such as neurosciences, cardiology and children’s intensive care to more than 3.7 million people in central southern England and the Channel Islands.

The new building was required to provide purpose-designed, permanent business support offices and meeting space for around 85 staff from the Medical Physics and Dietetics teams who were relocating from outdated temporary facilities. That accommodation could then be demolished to allow construction work to start on a new seven-storey car park. The upper two floors of the office scheme will provide additional space for the Trust’s future expansion without any further impact on the hospital site.

Complex logistics

Portakabin was appointed as design and build contractor for the project, and manufactured the 1300m² facility using a Yorkon off-site solution. The site is in the centre of the hospital and was extremely constrained, fronting a busy road and next to a number of clinical buildings. Fast completion was essential so work could be started on the car park development as soon as possible.

Portakabin had to undertake complex logistics and meticulous planning throughout to manage traffic flows and maintain access at all times for bus and ambulance routes and for around 800 deliveries each day along the road immediately adjacent to the site.

Off-site fitting out

Because of the severely restricted working area, the Yorkon building modules were craned into position around 70% fitted out, with partitions, plumbing and electrics pre-installed in the factory to further reduce work on site.

Commenting on the project, Neil Haskell, Senior Project Manager at the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The restricted time to build this scheme was the key driver for modular construction. Site-based building methods could not have delivered the building in the timeframe we had, and were not feasible on such a tight site. The space for the new facility was extremely limited and so lent itself well to moving as much of the construction into the factory as possible.

“The use of a Yorkon solution also resulted in much less disruption because most of the fitting out was done off site and we were able to maintain access 24/7.”

Frontline patient services

Portakabin worked on the project with Interserve Prime, which is in a joint venture – Commercial Estates Development Partnership (CEDP) – with the Trust to develop a programme of new hospital facilities. This will enhance the patient, visitor and staff experience and will generate an income that can be reinvested into frontline patient services.

Ben Gwilliam, Development Manager for Interserve Prime, said: “This scheme was on the critical path for a wider project and so was very programme-driven. We needed to have the new offices fully operational as soon as possible for the relocation of staff from various departments. Portakabin delivered the building on time, met all the requirements for functionality and layout, and in an extremely tight timescale. This allowed us to progress other essential development works for the hospital, to the benefit of patients and staff.

“We have been very impressed with the Portakabin team throughout. They provided the full range of construction services, including design, ground works and fitting out. We would certainly recommend Yorkon off-site solutions, and the services and approach from Portakabin, to others.”

Buildings required to expand capacity on hospital sites are often complex, specialist and highly-serviced facilities that are needed on already extremely constrained sites. There is also the critical issue of minimising disruption to hospital services during construction. These requirements are increasingly being met using Yorkon off-site solutions from Portakabin – in up to half the time of site-based building methods, with much less disruption to patient care, greater certainty of completion on budget and on programme, and to stringent NHS quality standards.

Meeting building requirements

Architectural off-site solutions can be engineered to meet almost any design brief, hospital site and building footprint with greater efficiency, less disruption and shorter programme times. Buildings can be installed in enclosed courtyards, on the roofs of existing buildings and on steel platforms to increase capacity on highly-constrained hospital sites.

These solutions have been used extensively across the UK for ward extensions, self-contained theatre blocks, emergency care units, haemodialysis centres, offices, community clinics, and complete hospitals, delivering all the advantages of off-site construction.

Services from Portakabin include design, planning, groundworks, module manufacture, fitting out, landscaping, testing and commissioning – a full and efficient turn-key service for both healthcare clients and contractors.

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