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Skanska forges biomedical powerhouse at New Papworth Hospital

Cutting-edge technology and unprecedented sustainability are underpinning one of the UK’s biggest health sector construction projects.

Project: New Papworth Hospital
Contract value: £140m
Contract type: Design and build
Region: East of England
Main contractor:
Skanska UK
Start date: March 2015
Completion date: February 2018

Above Cambridge’s gothic towers and historic colleges, dozens of tower cranes now loom.

At the centre of this localised building boom is the expanding Cambridge Biomedical Campus, which will include the New Papworth Hospital when it opens next year.

Today, 20 per cent of Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire’s economy is driven by the tech and scientific sectors, according to a report by Savills. 

In September 2016 it was announced that Cambridge would get £114m from the government to make world-first medical breakthroughs, as part of a package of research funding announced by health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The hospital is being built some 24 km from the old one. “Papworth Hospital was built around the 1800s,” says Skanska project director Kevin Kilcoyne. “It’s a Victorian building spread over a large site.

“The model of care the client was looking for is one where they can pull all their experts together in an easy-to-navigate environment, and to be located adjacent to some of the world’s leading research facilities. At New Papworth Hospital we are in the heart of that.”

Centralised expertise

Papworth Hospital acquired almost 3 ha for its new base on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus before awarding the construction contract, worth approximately £140m. The PPP deal includes design, build, finance, operate and maintenance responsibilities.

It’s a tight site, with a very small amount of parking, so the temporary office is built on some of the land that will be landscaped.

Skanska New Papworth Hospital 7

Skanska New Papworth Hospital 7

The complex concrete frame is complete and cladding installation under way

“Works will be completed in February 2018 and the hospital opens in April 2018,” Mr Kilcoyne says. “Our focus is currently on the hospital, then we will decamp from our office and dig the rest of the pond that sits in this area.”

At the time of CN’s visit in late 2016 the site had 400 operatives, but it is expected to peak at about 500 this year.

“What drove the design was it being conceived from the inside out, whereas many projects are outside-in”

Kevin Kilcoyne, Skanska

Building the offsite frame has helped in terms of the delivery programme. Skanska construction director Sean Beacher says: “We’ve completed the concrete frame and are installing the cladding system, which was built off site to speed up construction and help with the fit-out sequence.

“Internally, we are 30-40 per cent of the way through. The whole fit-out sequence needs to be brought together quite swiftly now so we can progressively hand over the substantial number of rooms to the independent tester.”

Inside-out design

When complete, New Papworth Hospital will provide 310 beds, seven operating theatres and six in-patient wards that will have sub-specialities within them.

The site for the new hospital is adjacent to the existing Addenbrooke’s Hospital, which is at the eastern boundary of the Papworth site. This proximity is crucial to the clinical and design vision of the scheme, as there is a physical connection between the buildings to facilitate the provision of clinical services and the sharing of a range of support services.

“When we were bidding it was an architectural competition,” Mr Kilcoyne says. “We went through a process with the trust with several changes, so this wasn’t our first proposal. Most importantly we listened, and for the trust it was all about adjacencies. The fact that they’ve got this fabulous-looking building, what drove the design was [it being conceived from the] inside out, as opposed to many projects that are outside-in. 

Skanska New Papworth Hospital 1

Skanska New Papworth Hospital 1

The team uses iPads with BIM 360 Field

“It is designed around a main atrium; it’s quite a complex frame. There are only one or two rooms that are relatively squarish; the rest of the rooms have got faceted walls and acute angles, so that formed a challenge that we identified early on. We decided we would use a BIM model and we would need a way to take information directly from the model to set out on site.”

Skanska used BIM on Sweden’s New Karolinska Solna (NKS) University Hospital, just outside Stockholm – one of Sweden’s biggest ever hospital projects – and is applying lessons learned there to the UK.

iPads and robots

Alongside investment and fund management business Equitix, Skanska is in charge of financing, building, operating and maintaining the new hospital for the concession period until 2040.

“We’re using the latest BIM technology with a lot of success,” Mr Beacher says. “Fortunately, there are a number of us that have come from the NKS hospital, and we have learnt a lot from the Scandinavian way of doing things. We are fortunate as an organisation to have a family across the world, and we are deploying some of the tools used at NKS such as BIM 360 Field to aid factors such as the visibility.”

He is referring to how the software can help keep tabs on who is working where and the progress in each of the rooms on all the floors. “Quite often we can’t see the things that we need to see and these tools enable us to do that. We use BIM 360 Field to manage the job, support building site documentation, safety and quality control.”

“When we looked at the plan it originally had a pond and we decided to use that to our benefit”

Allen Shaw, Skanska

Mr Kilcoyne adds: “All of our operational guys have an iPad and are using BIM 360 Field. That’s got the hospital model and the room layouts on it, and we’ve developed it to a stage now where on each of the doors there’s a barcode you can scan that will then download the drawings of that room, which show exactly what’s going in there.”

Skanska is also using a Trimble RTS (robotic total station) along with Trimble Field Link software to set out walls, which reduces rework by setting out using co-ordinated design files.

“It works in 3D design; we use BIM to input information into this machine,” Mr Beacher explains. “The workers are then able to set out every aspect of what goes out there; it has a visual layout feature for easy identification and layout of points directly on a surface. It’s a useful and powerful tool to take out all those idiosyncrasies, those setting out errors. It helps reduce the number of hours spent in an office. Just one person can accurately lay out hundreds of points in a single day.”

Lab-based prep

The tranquil, landscaped setting of the new hospital aims to capture the essence of the existing Papworth facility, with its surrounding parkland and pond. “When we first came on the job we had an issue with too much water and nowhere to put it,” says Skanska project director Allen Shaw.

Skanska New Papworth Hospital 8

Skanska New Papworth Hospital 8

Each door has a barcode that can be scanned to download drawings of that room

“Planning conditions speculated that 6.1 litres per second can be discharged out, which ends up in the streets of Cambridge. When we looked at the plan it originally had a pond and we decided to use that to our benefit. We’re using that as a catchment area so we can manage and hold the water when we get heavy rainfall.”

Mr Kilcoyne adds: “We were getting monitored on a monthly basis for the water we are discharging. But we are more proactive than that. Allen commissioned a laboratory so every month we do our own testing – there are no surprises.”

With just over a year until completion, Skanska believes that effective planning and innovative techniques will keep the job on course.

With sustainability, connectivity and the latest technology at the heart of the building, New Papworth Hospital is primed to become the centrepiece of one of the world’s leading biomedical clusters.

Keeping it green

Skanska’s NKS project in Sweden aims to be the first university hospital in the world to gain coveted LEED Gold certification.

The entire construction site is a green workplace, featuring environmentally compatible solutions for amenities such as transportation and waste management. Along with deploying hi-tech resources, lessons learned in sustainability and waste management are also filtering through to New Papworth.

Papworth is designed to achieve an EPC ‘B’ energy rating – the first hospital in the UK to do so. Measures to reduce carbon emissions will include a large-scale ground-source heat pump system. Skanska will also collaborate with the Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to develop a green travel plan for the site, which will aim to reduce reliance on car travel and encourage the use of public transport.

Earlier this year, the earthworks to backfill and support the retaining walls were completed using spoil removed during foundations work, negating the need for imported landfill. “We set stringent targets for waste and how we manage waste,” Mr Kilcoyne explains. “We have KPIs, we’re really conscious about not sending waste to landfills and we recycle as much as we can.

“Health and safety and the environment are top of our agenda. It’s through this lean process and collaborative planning we’re reducing waste – waste energy, waste materials, waste resource. We have a big focus on that.”

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