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Small Project Highly Commended 2015

Location: London
Client/Owner: Imperial College
Architect: Royal College of Art Architecture Students
Structural Engineer: AKTII
Main Contractor/Builder: Millimetre
Joinery Company: Millimetre
Environmental Design: Max Fordham
Cost Control: Gardiner & Theobald LLP
Wood Supplier: Sydenhams Ltd, Lathams
Wood Species: Kerto-S LVL from Finland, WISA-Spruce and WISA-Birch plywood from Europe, European Engineered Oak

The Healthcare Innovation Exchange (HELIX) Centre new design studio sits within the grounds of St Mary’s Hospital as a hub to engage frontline NHS staff and patients as co-design collaborators. The purpose-built premises have an open-door policy, inviting healthcare staff and patients to participate in a programme of training, workshops and seminars.

The structure was designed by RCA Architecture students Ralf Alwani, Joanna Hyland and Matthew Volsen, winners of an design competition. The project was led by Senior Tutor, Adrian Friend, and supported by architects Jamie Fobert and Fernando Rihl, the with specialist design team members including AKT II, DP9, Gardiner and Theobald, Max Fordham and Millimetre.

Kerto was chosen as a means to exploit the tactile, aesthetic and renewable qualities of timber whilst achieving a highly engineered structure. The entire structure comprises a series of interlocking portal frames that stabilise the building in two directions whilst achieving the relatively large clear spanning roof. Kerto helped to achieve the necessary stiffness and strength need to control lateral movement and ensure the structure was compatible with the glazed walls. On the interior the timber frame is incorporated into bookcases and shelving that help to create a dynamic workspace for creative research.

The structure was fabricated off site and transported in two halves to reduce time onsite. The main frame has been clad in two layers of glass, held in place by engineered, slotted Oak glazing bars. The studio was installed over a period of five days on a demanding site with many access restrictions. Naturally ventilated, the tiled façade contains oak-cased pockets allowing the double skin to breathe. This is supplemented by low level heating to the façade during cooler months.

Project Director Adrian Friend, Senior Tutor in Architecture at the RCA, said, In the Helix Centre we tested the application of latest manufacturing technologies as design tool to increase quality and make an end product that epitomises beauty, exudes precision yet is affordable and quick to construct, an approach that mimics how HELIX will optimise healthcare innovation.”

Further Sustainability Information: Timber is FSC/PEFC certified.