Knowledge Networks: London and the Ox-Cam Arc
Oriel is a new home for the Moorfields Eye Hospital, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Charity.
The project takes a radical approach to the integration of sight related care, research and education in order to drive innovation and speed up the translation of research findings into treatment. Enabling a seamless collaboration between clinicians, patients and researchers, the building will provide a flexible and adaptable armature to facilitate future evolution in clinical care and research practice and strengthen both Moorfields’ position as a world-leading eye hospital and reinforce the Institute’s capacity to deliver globally-networked cutting-edge research.
In response to the aims and ambitions for the Oriel project, the design for Oriel has at its heart three key principles:
A magnetic place — to a new and welcoming civic place in the heart of St Pancras. The building responds to its context and site topography through creating two entrances — a lower one to the southwest drawing people oriented towards Bloomsbury and central London, the upper one to the northeast drawing people in from Kings Cross to the east. Both entrances lead to a generous and public atrium which forms the main front door into the building’s various departments. Through an active public engagement programme, Oriel will demonstrate to its patients, visitors and the wider community the innovative scientific research and medical trials that are carried out within the building. The ground plane of the building contains public-facing functions to create an active public realm.
Maximising collaboration — the building is designed to maximise integration and collaboration across the different departments and disciplines within the building. A structure, dubbed ‘the oriel’, occupies the centre of the atrium and contains the main vertical and lateral circulation to all parts of the building. A stack of multi-functional platforms and semi-enclosed spaces, the oriel is a spatial embodiment of the concept of translational medicine and research. It is a space to encourage ‘collaboration between patients, clinicians and researchers’ and to ‘harness the collective power of staff, students and patients’.
An adaptive building — the building accommodates a wide range of different functions — clinical services (A&E, outpatients and diagnostics, surgery), fundamental research, translational research, education — within a series of generic floor plates. Through a carefully calibrated structural grid, a servicing strategy that separates shell-and-core from departmental plant, and interiors that are easy to change, the building will also respond to technological and service delivery changes, even total changes of use in the future.
The design also embraces circular economy strategies in a number of ways — designing out waste through the use of off-site construction and Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA), designing for adaptability and change, designing in layers and designing the interior for disassembly.
‘The design team stood out in their highly developed awareness of the importance of the evolving nature of medical science and technology, how this might inform the form and function of the new building and how this might affect the people who will use it.’
Report of Competition Jury