An Architecture for Expertise in Preventative Healthcare
Lancaster University’s Health Innovation Campus is focussed on improving preventative healthcare. A specialism in medicine that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown up to be of utmost importance in the future.
In 2016, John McAslan + Partners were commissioned to design a masterplan for an 11-hectare site for the Campus including the first phase of the development, the Innovation Hub building.
Designed to instil a sense of orderly calm conducive to both mental and physical wellbeing, the Innovation Hub will bring together academics linked to the Faculty of Health and Medicine at Lancaster University with local service providers including NHS tenants. This cross-fertilisation of approaches tohealthcare, combining teaching, research and external partners’ experience in health innovation, is at the heart of John McAslan + Partners’ design concept.
The architects have shaped a building that, although timeless in its form, houses a variety of spaces conducive to both more formal and traditional ways of working and more recent informal collaborative methods that will benefit from generous social spaces.
In plan, these different dedicated spaces revolve around a subtly asymmetrical cross-section that enables easy orientation throughout the building and connects its different functions seamlessly. This creates a sense of cohesion while establishing a collegiate atmosphere helping to promote an appreciation of shared objectives amongst those using the building.
In relationship to its site, John McAslan + Partners have positioned the Innovation Hub so that the café and auditorium overlook surrounding woodland and rolling hills. These views help provide a clinically acknowledged need for respite from work on screens.Similarly, landscaping leading to the main entrance of the building reinforces its relationship with its parkland setting and introduces an abundance of natural light carried through inside via top-lit glazed circulation routes.
The massing and materiality of the Innovation Hub is a direct response to its context with its expanses of green space and open countryside beyond. The low-lying pavilion-like architecturalform carefully disguises the building’s volume of over 8000 sqm over five stories. In section, these floors are stepped in a way that accentuates the linearity of the design and complements its topography.
The elevations are clad in concrete panels interspersed with perforated anodised aluminium ventilation panels. The bronze- coloured metal panels have been machine cut with patterns of digitised and highly abstracted tree motifs. This gently decorative panelling wraps around the entrance of the building creating a sense of ceremony on arrival. The warm hues and natural tones of the materials play well with the changing quality of light throughout the day and the seasons, discretely animating the facades.
Project Architect and Associate at John McAslan + Partners, Paul East, reflects on the studio’s work on the Innovation Hub, ”At the studio, we work closely with our landscape architecture team to ensure that from the outset our buildings are embedded into their context in a way that maximises a positive rapport with the outside world. At the Innovation Hub, we’ve worked hard to embed the building into its terrain and to promote the pleasure we get from being exposed to nature.”
The biodiverse planting strategy implemented by John McAslan + Partners at the Hub is a part of this vision for buildings that enjoy a more harmonious relationship with the environment both visually and in terms of their energy consumption. It also responds to a now widely acknowledged need to provide the public with access to green space. Again, something the current pandemic has highlighted.