U The Children’s Hospital for Wales Where we are

Courtesy of Boyes Rees
The Children’s Hospital for Wales
ntil recently,Wales was the only country in
Europe that did not have a dedicated
children’s hospital.
The facilities that existed at the University
Hospital for Wales (UHW), the flag-ship hospital
providing care for very-sick children, were
described by some on-lookers as ‘third-world’.
Whilst this may seem an extreme description, the
cramped single storey wards did not meet current
standards, nor were they child-friendly.There were
no facilities for parents who often needed to stay
for several nights or even weeks.The cubicle-like
rooms with glass on three sides offered no privacy
for families, were hot in the summer and cold in
the winter. Buckets catching water leaking from
the ceiling were not uncommon and equipment
was stacked in the corridors due to lack of storage.
The medical team was world-class but the facilities
in which they had to work did not come close to
matching that.
Where we were
Courtesy of Noah’s Ark Appeal
Where we are
A state of the art facility had been realised in Bristol,
Cardiff’s nearest neighbouring city in England, a decade
Determined to change the situation and ensure that
children in Wales should have access to the same care as
other children throughout Europe, a group of dedicated
people, including local businessmen and paediatricians,
began campaigning for a dedicated Children’s Hospital for
WHE Internet website: www.wales.nhs.uk/whe
Showing support for one of her favourite charities, Dame
Shirley Bassey auctioned some of her most glamorous
evening gowns for the Appeal and raised £250,000 for the
children’s hospital, which she took time out to visit in
September 2004.
Appeal Patrons Catherine Zeta Jones and Charlotte
Church have been stalwart ambassadors for the charity.
Charlotte has visited the hospital on many occasions and
even celebrated her 18th birthday there. In June 2006,
Catherine Zeta Jones and her husband, Michael Douglas
unveiled a plaque at the hospital to mark its official
Wales.Their tireless lobbying finally resulted in the
National Assembly’s approval for the project to go ahead
with the money for the building to be raised through a
charitable capital appeal.
The Noah’s Ark Appeal was set up in May 2000 to raise
the initial £5 million needed to build the first phase of the
first children’s hospital for Wales (the initial target of
£5 million was later extended by £1.5 million to cover
additional costs, including equipment for the hospital).
To discover that Wales was lagging behind its European
peers in such a fundamental area as child health care was a
huge shock to many; a discovery that spurred people from
across Wales and beyond into action. As the appeal
gathered momentum, donations began to flood in.
The ‘Buy a Brick Campaign’, run in association with the
Western Mail, was instrumental in helping to raise the
profile of the Appeal. Readers gave money in their
thousands, some businesses choosing to buy bricks for the
hospital, rather than Christmas cards for their colleagues.
Soon money was pouring in from all corners of the globe,
from places as far away as America and Japan.
❖ Celebrity Support for the Appeal
Celebrity support for the Appeal was phenomenal, with
celebrities from many fields keen to support the appeal to
build the first children’s hospital in Wales.
Courtesy of Noah’s Ark Appeal
❖ The Noah’s Ark Appeal
Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas at the official opening
❖ First Phase of the Children’s
Courtesy of Noah’s Ark Appeal
Hospital for Wales
Cllr. Russell Goodway, Charlotte Church, Ian Botham,
Catherine Zeta Jones and Stanley Thomas, OBE
In April 2002 and October 2003 people from across
Wales gathered to support the Appeal as cricketing legend,
Ian Botham undertook fundraising walks, organised by the
Noah’s Ark Appeal. Ian was helped along the way by a host
of celebrity supporters, including Appeal Patrons, Charlotte
Church and Catherine Zeta Jones. Other famous faces
including TV and radio entertainer, Max Boyce, sporting
stars Gareth Edwards, Mike Gatting, Matthew Maynard,
Daley Thompson, Lyn Davies and Tanni Grey Thompson,
JPR Wiliams and many others gave their support to the
Appeal by joining the walkers.Together, the Ian Botham
Walks raised an impressive £1.3 million.
Darren Day nominated the Appeal to receive the
proceeds of his phone votes when he appeared as a
contestant in reality TV show “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me out
of Here” and raised £30,000 for the Appeal.
WHE Intranet website: howis.wales.nhs.uk/whe
Bringing the project forward to implementation required a
shared vision with the Trust and substantial input of its
estates expertise. A site on one of the few remaining
undeveloped areas at the UHW was earmarked and a
control plan prepared which anticipated a three phase
development of connected linear blocks around a
courtyard to complete the facility, making all children’s
services, including A&E and surgery dedicated in the
Children’s Hospital for Wales. It was envisaged that the
courtyard would be used by the children and incorporate
play areas.
The first phase of the Children’s Hospital for Wales
opened its doors to its first patients on 25th February
2005 and on the ground and upper ground levels houses
replacement wards for the sub standard accommodation
at UHW. Child oncology facilities at first and second floor
levels replace those at Llandough Hospital and initiates the
convergence of children’s services by the Trust. Included in
the second floor of the new unit are overnight stay rooms
for parents and administration accommodation for
LATCH, the charity set up at Llandough dedicated to the
practical support of child cancer and leukaemia patients,
siblings and parents.
The Trust opted for a design and build procurement
strategy as its favoured route to secure economy and
certainty of price. Exemplar plans were prepared in house
Courtesy of Cardiff & Vale NHS Trust
with reference to Building Note guidance and input from
its paediatricians. As a cornerstone of the Employer’s
Requirements the floor plans constituted a four storey
linear block with the main entrance and primary vertical
circulation at the perimeter road end.This arrangement
provided for subsequent phases to be added when funding
and approvals allowed, completing the Children’s Hospital
development and the enclosure of the courtyard.
Tenders were invited in late 2002 after full consultation
between the Trust and the Noah’s Ark Appeal to ensure
that funds were in place to pay the contractors as work
progressed. Laing O’Rourke was the main contractor
leading the successful bid.
Boyes Rees, as consultant architects, adopted a novel
approach to the rather tight prescriptive brief. Drawing
inspiration from the title of the funding charity, the
exterior of the four storey block reflects the appearance
of an enormous Noah’s Ark.This is achieved by the use of
cedar boarding as cladding, a prow profile and a white
tensile structure over the main entrance evoking ship’s
sails. Round porthole windows in the stair towers
continue the theme and the undulating blue fabric canopy
to the covered walkway alongside the long outward
elevation suggests the ocean in which the Ark sets sail.
Courtesy of Boyes Rees
Courtesy of Cardiff & Vale NHS Trust
East Elevation
Approach from the South
Courtesy of Cardiff & Vale NHS Trust
Staircase exterior
Main Entrance
The mass of the block is effectively scaled down by
articulation and gentle curvature of the elevation, recessed
areas with balconies and the use of coloured renders,
predominantly ivory and strongly accented with areas of
blue and terracotta.The upper plant rooms and some
recessed planes are clad with horizontal ribbed aluminium
panels so that observers are in no doubt that this is
definitely an Ark for the 21st century.
It is regrettable that the balconies and the rotunda
terrace over the entrance area do not function as useable
external areas as they are deemed to present
unacceptable health and safety risks.
In the context of the generally monochromatic backdrop
of the University Hospital,The Children’s Hospital for
Wales Phase One asserts its own unique and colourful
identity on the campus.
WHE Internet website: www.wales.nhs.uk/whe
Entrance Lobby
Play Area
Waiting Area
Noah’s Ark Appeal Information
Entrance to Ward
Second Floor - SPACE
10 Single Bed Room
11 4 Bed Ward
12 Stair
13 Lift
14 Lift Lobby
15 Family Room
16 Utility Room
17 Treatment Room
18 Kitchen
19 Milk Kitchen
20 Ward Reception/Office
First Floor - SKY
21 Breast Feeding Room
22 Cleaner Room
23 Junior Doctor
24 Teacher/Councilor
25 Consulting Room
26 Push Chair
27 Laundry
28 Staff Rest
29 Disposal Hold
30 Service Riser
31 Parent Sitting Room
32 Equipment
Upper Ground Floor - LAND
33 8 Person Bed/Recovery Stage 2
34 2 Bed Ward
35 Staff Change
36 Assisted Bath/WC
37 Assisted Shower/WC
38 Clean Utility/Prep Room
39 Recovery Stage 1
40 Balcony
41 Cubicle
42 Play/Dining/Teaching
43 Quiet Room
44 General Store
Lower Ground Floor - OCEAN
45 Bath Room
46 Sitting Room
The Children’s Hospital for Wales site plan
47 Linen
48 Office
49 Seminar Room
50 Board Room
51 Data Manager/Nurse Room
52 Office Manager
53 Baby Change
54 Cat Ladder
55 Starlight Express
WHE Intranet website: howis.wales.nhs.uk/whe
❖ Art for Ark’s sake
Courtesy of Cardiff & Vale NHS Trust
The specially commissioned art project for the Children’s
Hospital for Wales was conceived after the building had
been designed in order to help children feel more relaxed
and at home in the hospital. Colourful images and
interactive activities help make the hospital a fun and
friendly place for children to visit in contrast to the
austere and clinical environment that many of them have
experienced before.
It is well recognised that art, music and activities on
hospital wards can help lower levels of anxiety by making
surroundings more relaxed and less institutional. Children
especially benefit from an array of textures and colours,
raising their spirits in difficult times. Doctors, designers and
artists alike shared the aspiration that artwork in the new
Children’s Hospital would form an integral part of the
healing process.
The process of selecting the artists was an exacting task.
Art Project Director, Alison Scott searched through UK
wide registers of artists and craftspeople. Eventually a
shortlist of nine artists, seven of whom live and work in
Wales, was drawn up to ensure a balance of contrasting
The Art Project Team was faced with a list of criteria in
order that the inside of the new hospital would
complement the architecture.Their briefing was that the
art should reflect the culture of Wales, be child-friendly,
functional, playful, interactive, unique, distinctive,
contemporary and safe.
Floor detail
Many of the artists worked closely with local school
children to create designs to have mass appeal to the
appropriate age group of the setting.The artists, each using
different materials, from vinyl to mosaic, interpreted the
children’s designs and transferred them to designs used in
the hospital.
In contrast to the original paediatric wards, the
Children’s Hospital for Wales is bright, welcoming and
child-friendly — built with a child’s perspective in mind.
Bold floor patterns lead the way along each of the themed
wards and nurses’ stations are illuminated from below to
guide children back to their rooms. Interactive art features
on the walls of the hospital have the effect of making the
hospital bright and cheerful and also a distraction from
Courtesy of Boyes Rees
❖ Ocean
The oceanic theme set by the nautical exterior continues
into the main entrance foyer which incorporates several
elements to capture the imagination of children on arrival.
The centrepiece ‘fish tree’ in stainless steel features 340
hydro formed fish in a swirling shoal around the head of a
column top lit under the glass block ceiling.
Each of the four floors of the hospital carries a different
theme.The artists created a magical Ocean theme for the
ground floor, Land for the upper ground floor, Sky for the
first floor and (you guessed it) Space for the second floor.
From its inception the main thrust of the art project was
to bring the art and function of the building together to
create an environment which is easy to navigate with
fascinating landmarks and trails of colour and light.
It is regrettable that the art input did not start at
inception stage of the architectural design which would
undoubtedly have created an easier integration and
avoided one or two jarring colour combinations.
Courtesy of Noah’s Ark Appeal
Nurse station
Stainless steel fish tree in Main Entrance Foyer
WHE Internet website: www.wales.nhs.uk/whe
Ocean Ward is accessed directly from the entrance area
and cares for very young children (0 - 5years).The ward
has 23 beds arranged in four bays of four beds and seven
single bedrooms in a conventional linear plan.The centrally
located nurse base is curved which offsets the regimented
corridor effect of the plan.
Play/waiting area
Courtesy of Boyes Rees
Courtesy of Cardiff & Vale NHS Trust
Four wall mounted glass panels by Chris Ryan signal the
themes adopted on each floor with semi abstract motifs
colour enamelled on to sand blasted toughened glass.
The play/waiting area by Smadar Samson includes an
aquarium wall feature with cold water fish, a ’wave box’
which produces different sounds when droplets are
touched and a soft seating area in the form of a giant
Four-bed ward
Pull down beds that fold away during the day adjacent to
the bed heads create working space for medical staff and
yet enable parents to spend the night alongside their sick
child. Previously the only facilities available were chairs or
makeshift camp beds.
Underfloor heating throughout the building is functional
and safe with the added bonus of decluttering the walls of
radiators and pipework. Blond wood doors, muted
coloured frames and wall finishes provide a foil for the
bold contrasting colours of the vinyl sheet floor which
features serpentine and amorphous trails evoking tidal
currents and tentacles. Coloured neon feature fittings
provide accents to the general lighting scheme.
Courtesy of Boyes Rees
The reception desk has a split level counter top to set the
scene and scale for the children and their parents. A WRVS
coffee shop and the Noah’s Ark Appeal shop open out to
the foyer helping to raise the profile of the charity and the
ongoing fundraising campaign.
Main Entrance reception desk
WHE Intranet website: howis.wales.nhs.uk/whe
Courtesy of Cardiff & Vale NHS Trust
Courtesy of Cardiff & Vale NHS Trust
Main entrance foyer
Lighting detail
Courtesy of Cardiff & Vale NHS Trust
David Mackie’s bronze portholes are the featured
artworks on the corridor walls of Ocean Ward. Arranged
in six groups of three each cast bronze porthole
incorporates a separate view of marine life observed
‘below deck’.
❖ Land
Taking the lift to the next level is a delight and testament
to the detailed consideration and care taken at design
stage.The signage is clear on elegantly curved aluminium
plates with child friendly coloured icons supplementing
the titles. Moreover, the ‘voice in the lift’ is that of a young
girl joyfully giving clear information in Welsh and English
about the lift’s next destination. Instead of the usual
parting shot of ‘Going up’ she excitedly announces ‘Get
ready for lift off!’
Lift signage
Emerging from the lift lobby the floor trails and colours
change and lead into Land Ward, which accommodates
children in the 6 – 16 year age range.Whilst the 23 bed
format, general plan and specification is the same as Ocean
Ward, the colours and artwork theme create a very
different and unique setting.
David Mackie, again working with primary school
children in Penarth, takes his inspiration from their
interpretations of ‘land and the growing seasons’.Their
images have been transposed on to giant terracotta jigsaw
pieces, which feature trees, animals, vegetables and harvest
imagery and are arranged in clusters on the corridor
walls.This time the accent neon ceiling lights are green.
In the day room children have been allowed to customise
the space and literally make their own mark on their
habitat. Each participating child is given a blank square tile
from the suspended ceiling grid and paints a favourite
image and their name on it.The effect when the tiles have
been reset in the (exposed) grid is surprisingly elegant and
Judy Foote has orchestrated the artwork impressively on
this floor.Working with Cardiff primary and high school
pupils, they produced a wealth of imagery of air transport
and sky dwelling creatures such as butterflies and birds.
Her method was to scan their drawings and use
computer driven cutting machinery to reproduce them on
coloured translucent vinyl and aluminium.The vinyl work
is applied to the extensive glazed areas in the lift lobby.
The coloured glass effect of aircraft looping the loop is
particularly apt as the images are viewed against the real
sky The aluminium work accented with colour which
features on the corridor walls of Sky Ward is equally bold
and effective. Hot air balloons, butterflies and aeroplanes
with their swoops and trails expressed in arcs of
aluminium create a real stimulus - upbeat and child
Courtesy of Cardiff & Vale NHS Trust
Courtesy of Cardiff & Vale NHS Trust
Ward entrance sign
❖ Sky
Ascent from land inevitably brings us to Sky Ward on the
next level.This is another 23 bed unit similar to Ocean
and Land Wards below. Prepared for lift off this time, it
was appropriate to find cloud forms and vapour trail floor
patterns leading from the lift lobby into the ward, which
replaces the child oncology unit at LLandough with eight
of the beds dedicated to day care.
Floor detail
WHE Internet website: www.wales.nhs.uk/whe
Courtesy of Cardiff & Vale NHS Trust
Lift Lobby window detail
Ward entrance sign
Courtesy of Cardiff & Vale NHS Trust
❖ Space
Courtesy of Boyes Rees
Onward and upward
to the topmost
(second) floor level
which houses the
oncology out patients
suite at the near end
and the LATCH
facility beyond —
offices for the charity,
which contributed £800,000 to the funding of the
children’s hospital, and six overnight stay rooms for
parents of the child cancer patients.
The flooring provides the first clue to the space theme.
There are no more trails or clouds now, only occasional
asteroid icons suggesting that we have travelled out of the
earth’s atmosphere.
The first thing to gain the attention of the children on
entering the out patient area is the Starlight Express
Room, which allows them to enjoy stimulating play in a fun
environment whilst waiting for their consultations and
treatment.There is
a soft play corner,
bank of computers
with interactive
games, disco
section, a ‘cabinet
of curiosities’ and a
view of Wales from
outer space.Words
somehow fall short
in describing the
Starlight Express
Room. It is
certainly a magnum
opus and reflects
the care taken
throughout the
design and art
project to ensure
that the children
enjoy themselves.
Starlight Express Room
WHE Intranet website: howis.wales.nhs.uk/whe
Courtesy of Boyes Rees
Starlight Express Room
❖ Where are we now? Where do we
want to be?
In the year since it opened, nearly 7,000 children have
been treated at the Children’s Hospital for Wales.
However, official figures from Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust,
show that a further 63,000 children in Wales are in need
of the specialist care that the completed children’s hospital
could provide.
Until the next phase of the Children’s Hospital is built,
with provision for surgical care, high dependency/intensive
care and specialist clinics, these children are unable to
benefit from the same facilities as children currently
treated in Phase One.
Planned content for Phase Two includes paediatric
theatres with associated dedicated recovery areas and
ambulatory care theatres with associated ambulatory care
short stay beds. Paediatric surgery is currently carried out
in adult theatres and the long journey to theatre on a
trolley involves going through the corridors of the main
hospital, away from the less clinical, child friendly
environment of the Children’s Hospital.
An accident and emergency department for children
(currently situated in the adult department), a radiology
department for children and an Institute for Child Health,
dedicated paediatric outpatient department incorporating
therapy and pharmacy provision and critical care services,
comprising paediatric intensive care unit and high
dependency unit, are also planned for the second phase.
Phase One was completed ahead of programme for a
modest out-turn cost of £2000/m2, some 25% below
equivalent projects.
Whilst additional
monies would have
allowed further
sophistication, the
specification and finish
is generally good.
Fundraisers, the Trust,
designers, contractors
and artists have all
contributed heroically
and the building merits
every credit.
The additional
facilities and resources
planned for the final
phase are prerequisite
for the completion of a
world-class paediatric
hospital for Wales.
Whilst there will
undoubtedly be many
obstacles to overcome
before that dream becomes a reality, Phase One stands as
a monument to what can be achieved when national pride
and generosity moves the people of Wales to determine
what is rightfully theirs.
The Building Review was carried out by Phil Withecombe on
behalf of Welsh Health Estates. Phil is an Architect with many
years’ experience in the health design sector.Welsh Health
Estates is grateful for the Assistance provided by Cardiff and
Vale NHS Trust, Noah’s Ark Appeal and Boyes Rees.
For further information contact:
Peter Wiles on 029 2031 5542 or
e-mail: [email protected]
Project Details
Start on site
Contract Completion Date
Opened to patients
Works costs
Floor area
Contract Type
Employer’s Agent
Planning Supervisor
Main Contractor
Structural Engineer
M & E Services Engineer
April 2003
October 2004
February 2005
Design and Build
Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust
Capita Symonds
Capita Symonds
Laing O’Rourke
Boyes Rees
Bay Associates
Hoare Lea
WHE Internet website: www.wales.nhs.uk/whe