Western Community Hospital, Southampton

Western Community Hospital, Southampton

Western Community Hospital, Southampton

Client: Trust Taplins Childcare Department
Contractor: Studio Four Architects
Value: £2.3m
Type of works: installation of a two-storey childcare centre and office building.

For George Rankin and his team at Studio Four Architects in Romsey, it was just another interesting day nursery project, similar in many ways to another building they had recently completed for the Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust. But this one was due to change radically, when the client stipulated that an extra 879 square metre floor of offices for the Southampton City Primary Care Trust needed to be added above the 1063 square metre ground floor day nursery, crèche and training centre.

This was not the first time in his 35 year career that George had been confronted with a challenge like this, but he knew that this addition to the design for the Trust Taplins Childcare Department at the Western Community Hospital was just not possible using traditional construction techniques within the time frame imposed by funding constraints.

14 months had been allowed for the project from a ‘cold start’ through briefing, full design, approvals, tender and completion of the site construction. It was the client who came up with the solution of modular build, but George freely admits that this was one of those rare occasions when he had to swallow his professional pride, “Because”, as he explained later, “modular would not have been my first choice of build technique”. As it turned out George and the client were delighted with the end result that came complete with a traditional brick skin and pitched roof. The funding arrived on time and the project was completed within budget, on time.

Modular specialists Wernick™ Buildings won the factory-build project in a competitive open tender against stiff competition from three other companies because it was able to offer a cost-effective, traditional-looking building, constructed under tight quality control conditions at its manufacturing plant in Neath Abbey, South Wales, and all completed within the tight programme requirements.

With funding from seven different bodies the new £2.3m facility has space for 100 children. Half the places are allocated to children whose parents work in the local NHS, with the remaining 50 allocated to children from families living in the local community. As well as the nursery, there is a training suite on the ground floor, complete with IT room and separate crèche, which is available to staff and childcare providers such as the Early Years Partnership, who require a training resource in the area.

In addition to the usual childcare amenities, the centre has indoor and outdoor play areas, quiet rooms and sleeping areas. The nursery is managed by Taplins, the internal childcare department of Southampton University Hospital Trust.

Nursery Manager, Sam Hollins commented, “It’s a great new childcare provision for the local area, with a safe and inspiring environment in which children can be professionally cared for. We particularly like the all-weather garden which is covered in NoMow grass that looks and feels really convincing”.

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