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We’ve been working on the mechanical, electrical and public health (MEP), energy and sustainability scheme design for the UK’s first proton beam therapy unit, to develop the design from stage 3 through to handover. Proton beam therapy (a form of radiotherapy) is used to treat cancer with minimal damage to surrounding tissue. The therapy has been offered abroad previously but now NHS England, alongside the Department of Health, is funding two leading treatment centres in the UK. Christie’s in Manchester will welcome patients from 2018 and UCLH will follow in 2020.

The 34,500 m² building consists of five above-ground storeys of clinical space (which will house Europe’s largest centre for the treatment of blood disorders), with approximately the same depth below ground to house the four floors of proton gantries. The excavation, one of the biggest in London, is large enough to contain the Royal Albert Hall. As well as the four gantries, the specialist accommodation includes a dedicated critical care facility, full diagnostic imaging department and various theatres.

The 28.5-metre basement presents many engineering challenges including highly-specialised medical facilities and working at such scale in the centre of the Capital city. The extremely constrained urban site between Grafton Way and Tottenham Court Road is not only bordered by existing UCLH live buildings and within the Bloomsbury Conservation Area, but is also very close to London Underground infrastructure. Restricted plant space in the second-floor basement sits above the 4m-thick concrete PBT gantry bunkers housing the proton beam therapy treatment rooms and associated equipment. The biggest coordination challenge of the project is providing routes for delivery and replacement of the gantries and cyclotron.

The scheme holds a BREEAM pre-assessment of Excellent and is a Government Exemplar project in using BIM Level 2, which was used to develop the model of the phased construction and has been paramount to the success of the MEP design for ultra-detailed coordination. The project also meets the latest Part L energy targets, with high efficiency and low-energy servicing strategies to control the buildings operational and energy costs once operating.