The site for the new Renal Unit at Edinburgh Western General Hospital is located on the main access road into the hospital complex and sits between the Scottish Health Service Centre (SHSC) training and administration building to the east, and Ward 1 to the west. The new building replaces the existing renal unit which was 30 years old.
The site itself presented a number of challenges:
The site drops approximately 2.5m across its width, and slopes down from north to south.
The main access road into the hospital (on the north) is busy, and whilst there is no space for patient drop off, the brief required an entrance for visitors arriving on foot, with the main entrance to be located to the south, to accommodate patients and visitors arriving by car.
The site is located adjacent to the old Nuffield Transplantation Surgery Unit (now Ward 1) dating from 1963 and designed by Peter Womersley, an important (but often overlooked) British architect of the 20th Century. The brief required the new Renal building to physically connect to this building (and its internal circulation), facilitating access to the wider hospital.
Existing access to the adjacent Scottish Health Service Centre (SHSC) building had to be maintained to the east of the site.
The new building responds to these challenges in a number of different ways. The new building is dug into the sloping site and exploits the topography by placing the treatment areas on the upper level, along with public waiting area and supporting staff and admin areas, to exploit the views south and availability of natural light. The link across to Ward 1 is also on the upper level, adjacent to the entrance area. The supporting utilitarian uses such as staff changing, storage and plant areas are located on the lower level, dug into the slope.
Project website: https://hlmarchitects.com/projects/western-general-renal-unit/