Oct 17, 2019 Last Updated 10:52 AM, Aug 14, 2019

East Wing at St Thomas’ Hospital has been given a new lease of life

Published in Upfront
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East Wing at St Thomas’ Hospital has been a feature of the London skyline since it first opened to patients in 1966 and now the 13-storey tower has been given a new lease of life following an extensive revamp.


The project secures the long-term future of the T-shaped tower, which was originally built in the 1960s and suffered from significant problems associated with water ingress, excessive solar gain and inadequate lift capacity. Its redevelopment has allowed the hospital to improve both patient care and the working environment for staff in one of the UK’s largest hospitals.

The East Wing project was managed by Essentia – Guy’s and St Thomas’ in-house infrastructure provider – and delivered by a team including Lead Building Contractor ISG, Architects Hopkins Architects, Engineering Consultants Arup, and Project Managers Mace.

An innovative design solution, developed jointly by Arup, Hopkins and ISG, allowed the hospital to refurbish rather than empty, demolish and rebuild.

Michael Taylor, Senior Partner at Hopkins Architects, comments: “Although it was in a bad state of repair when we started the project, nonetheless the original T-shaped East Wing building was clad with high quality materials – slate, stainless steel, hardwood and ceramic tiles.

“We elected to carefully refurbish these, rather than replace them, and to provide protection from the elements with a new outer skin of glass which we pulled away from the facade to create two new triangular atria.

“Extending the life of the building like this was much more sustainable than a new build and it allowed continued use of the wards, which was of utmost importance to the Trust on this tight urban site.”

Hopkins’ competition-winning scheme saw the retention and refurbishment of the existing facade (made of natural slate, teak, stainless steel and ceramic tiles) and the addition of new glazed cladding creating a double-skinned facade along the building’s western side and two new atria along the east, which house new bed lifts and an art installation by Tsai & Yoshikawa in a dramatic and light-filled environment.

The art installation – Aquatic Flora I & II – was chosen by the public and has been funded by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity. It features two large, nine-storey high vertical botanical forms which are artistic alternatives to the fish tanks commonly found in hospital waiting rooms.

The addition of two new lifts are essential for critically ill patients who need to be transferred from the hospital’s A&E department to the intensive care units and inpatient wards in East Wing.

The challenge of the East Wing project was to carry out the work with minimal disruption while clinical services, which include two intensive care units and 200 inpatient beds, continued to function as part of a busy city hospital.

Steve McGuire, Director of Essentia at Guy’s and St Thomas’, says: "East Wing is home to some of the most important clinical services at St Thomas’, caring for some of our sickest patients. The rationale for the East wing project was simple – the building was leaking, it wasn’t energy efficient, and the lifts to take patients from A&E to intensive care and wards were not fit for purpose, and so a complete overhaul was needed.

“Improving our infrastructure without disrupting patient care is a key priority and we are very proud that the East Wing project was completed without cancelling any appointments or treatments.”

Stuart Deverill, ISG’s Southern Regional Manager Director, comments: “This complex and logistically challenging project has been a triumph of careful planning and considerate execution. Strong partnerships have been integral to the delivery of the East Wing scheme and we are delighted to have led the construction on this transformational project for the Trust.”

Lynne Tyas, Project Director at Mace, comments: “With more than 50 significant stakeholders, communication was always one of the key challenges. Extensive dialogue and surveys, including noise and disruption, during the pre-construction stage were critical to ensuring there was minimal disruption during construction.

“The strategies developed and widely shared with the clinical teams instilled confidence that their needs had been understood and accommodated. This proved to be the cornerstone of the project.”

Patricia Johnstone, Director and UKMEA board member for Arup, comments: “Our challenge was to help develop a cost-effective, buildable design for a highly complex and constrained site. We needed to thoroughly renew the exterior of East Wing without disrupting the building’s intensive care units and wards. Arup’s team of building, facade, geotechnical and fire engineers are proud to have contributed to the creation of a better functioning and more attractive East Wing – one that clearly offers an improved environment for patients and staff.”

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