New London Architecture

Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children


Designed for Great Ormond Street Hospital and UCL, the 13,000 sqm Zayed Centre for Research is the world’s first purpose built paediatric centre for research and treatment of rare disease.


Winner in the CARING category 
At the Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children, Stanton Williams reimagined the healthcare environment as a shared civic experience in the heart of London. Designed for Great Ormond Street Hospital and University College London, the 13,000 sqm facility combines pioneering research with clinical care and is the first purpose-built paediatric centre of its kind in the world. Facing Coram’s Fields - a site dedicated to the welfare of children for over 250 years – the building  invites views into the 600 sqm double-height laboratories and actively engages science with urban life.
Knowledge Networks: London and the Ox-Cam Arc

Knowledge Networks: London and the Ox-Cam Arc

At the Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children, Stanton Williams has reimagined the healthcare environment as an engaging civic experience in the heart of London.

 Designed for Great Ormond Street Hospital and University College London, the building combines pioneering research with clinical care, promoting a bench-to-bedside model of translational research. The 13,000sqm project is the first purpose-built centre of its kind in the world. Inspired by the prominent location opposite Coram’s Fields — a site dedicated for over 250 years to the wellbeing of children — Stanton Williams created a public-facing building that invites views into the 600sqm lower ground floor laboratories from the street. Inside, the design combines robust laboratory and research facilities with welcoming outpatient accommodation. Throughout, specially commissioned artwork by Great Ormond Street Hospital’s Arts programme, enhances the environment for researchers, clinical staff, patients and families alike. Responding to its sensitive context within the Bloomsbury Conservation Area, Stanton Williams designed a calm and dignified building with vertical fins of sandblasted terracotta arranged across the highly glazed, north-facing main elevation. These rhythmic elements give the building a solid appearance when viewed obliquely, while those inside reap the benefit of the generous natural light.

 Everyone — both patients and staff — enters across a bridge over the laboratories, where scientists are visible working on new treatments and cures. A prominent artwork by Mark Titchner above the laboratories, and a DNA-inspired lighting installation by Stanton Williams in the reception, further engage with those passing by outside.

 By utilising the lower ground floor for the laboratories, Stanton Williams was able to make optimum use of the site. The main plant is located beneath the laboratories, while additional plant at roof level serves a clean room facility on the top floor for developing genetic treatments. The eight-level building is organised around two atria ‘hearts’. The largest is in the research zone and connects the laboratories at lower ground level to three levels of desk-based research space on upper floors. Interaction and chance encounters are encouraged by views across the spaces and via staircases leading up through the atrium to the staff café, and beyond into the workspace. The atrium is animated by a kinetic sculpture by Random International, which responds to its surrounding and engages with visitors in real time.

The second, more domestic-scaled atrium forms the heart of the outpatient zone. Here, children can engage with science and health issues through interactive play installations while they wait for their appointments. Further waiting areas on the first floor overlook Coram’s Fields, reinforcing the connection with the surrounding cityscape.

Stanton Williams created a non-clinical aesthetic throughout the building through generous access to views and natural light and the use of warm and tactile materials such as terrazzo, oak, and exposed concrete, which nonetheless meet stringent infection control requirements.

 ‘Too often healthcare and science are seen as specialisms disconnected from everyday life and the culture and society they serve. Re-establishing these connections, and celebrating the often-invisible work of researchers and clinicians, is now more important than ever. The Zayed Centre for Research seeks to make these connections visible, engaging health and care as part of our shared urban experience. It places human experience and wellbeing at the heart of the scientific and clinical environment, and fosters collaboration and the exchange of ideas and information in the delivery of ground-breaking treatment and translational research.’
Gavin Henderson, Principal Director, Stanton Williams
Zero Carbon London

Zero Carbon London

→ BREEAM Excellent
→ 37% reduction against Part L carbon emissions
→ 17% of regulated (Part L) energy is renewable
→ 5.6% of all energy usage on site is renewable
→ 15% improvement against LETI 2020 Embodied Carbon Reduction Target

Designed for Great Ormond Street Hospital and University College London as the first purpose-built paediatric centre of its kind in the world. The building takes a fabric first approach to delivering high levels of thermal efficiency, combined with the use of low and zero carbon technologies including a gas fired CHP and roof mounted photovoltaic panels which help to reduce heating and cooling loads, and demand from the main electricity grid. Water consumption has been reduced by 25 per cent against the BRE industry benchmarks, and the building has a fully integrated Building Management System to ensure optimum efficiency.

Project information






13090 sq m

Estimated completion

October 2019


20 Guilford St, Holborn, London WC1N 1DZ, UK

Team Credits


Stanton Williams


Great Ormond Street Hospital and UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Heal




Mechanical, Electrical, Public Health, Fire, Lighting and Acoustics: Hoare Lea

Structural Engineer

Pell Frischmann


Sustainability and BREEAM: Hoare Lea

Cost Consultant

Gardiner & Theobald LLP

Project Manager

Gardiner & Theobald LLP

Quantity Surveyor

Gardiner & Theobald LLP


Access Consultant: All Clear Designs

Landscape Architect

Bradley-Hole Schoenaich Landscape

Facade Engineer

Eckersley O’Callaghan


Traffic Engineers: Pell Frischmann


Healthcare Planning and ADB Consultant: MJ Medical


GMP Validation Consultant: Exmoor Pharma


Arts Consultant: GOSH Arts


Artists: Dana Al Mazrouei, Mark Titchner, Random International

Planning Consultant

DP9 Ltd


Educational and Interactive Installations: Designmap


Medical Equipment and Furnishings: MTS Health


Rights of Light, Daylight and Sunlight Consultant: GVA Schatunowski Brooks


Arboriculturist: Simon Jones Associates


Ecology Consultant: Ecology Solutions


Principal Designer: Turner & Townsend

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