HawkinsBrown - The UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology/Dementia Research Institute, designing in flexibility
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The UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology/Dementia Research Institute, designing in flexibility


Health  /  Future

Introduction We are working with University College London’s (UCL) Institute of Neurology, the UK Dementia Research Institute (UKDRI) and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (NHNN) to create the most comprehensive, coordinated translational neuroscience research, teaching and therapy centre in the world - from research at laboratory benches to patient care. The new purpose-built facility will bring together over 500 researchers and clinicians from different disciplines to tackle the global health challenges of neurological diseases, uniting research, and therapy in one building to improve therapy through translational research goals. Interdisciplinary working The building has been designed to foster collaborative working and innovative research practices by reducing barriers between research groups and clinicians who work with patients; this will speed up scientific and clinical outcomes simultaneously. The building is designed specifically to adapt and reconfigure as the scientific and clinical models evolve as and when researchers find causes, create innovative therapies, and improve mechanisms for treatment. The clinical areas, laboratories, technical support spaces, write up areas and collaboration spaces are organised around a central shared social backbone. On-floor service desks provide a communal sharing culture and allows the three institutes to share technologies, spaces, and innovative practice. The scheme stands 4-storeys above ground and 3-storeys below, and consists of a comprehensive out-patient clinic, imaging suite featuring 6 MRI scanners and a clinical trials area alongside a café, waiting areas with views out that connect researchers, clinicians, patients, and the public. There’s also a 200-seat conference facility and exhibition space for international events and communications in dementia care and research, lectures, staff training and engagement activities. Above ground laboratories are designed to be capable of changing between clinical, basic and data research with digital systems linked across a common network between university, hospital, and national research institute. Designing in flexibility As science and clinical models develop over time (and as a result of the work carried out within the completed building) the requirements for the building itself will change too - it has been designed for flexibility, adaptability and quick reconfiguration as users need and the science or therapies dictate. The building’s technical wings are futureproofed - these spaces adopt a core laboratory grid with standard modules for secondary science spaces, and a flexible services strategy including ceiling mounted future gas lines, power, and data supplies. Lab and medical furniture has been specified to be flexible to allow rapid alteration. The building has been designed to accommodate neighbourhood working with bookable rather than individually allocated offices. The laboratories themselves are managed through smart card costing, lab vending and central freezer management. Maximising the net to gross We are always looking to maximise the net useable area of a building through efficient space planning. Here, all three buildings are linked together by a central servicing and logistics area that works alongside a consolidation service located outside Central London. This enables spatial efficiencies within all buildings but specifically within Building 1; meaning that more useable space is available for research and clinical activities and less space used for storing, containing, and dealing with consumables. Ambitious sustainability targets Respect for the environment and local community are key principles underpinning the development. The new building will target BREEAM Excellent rating, aiming to reduce carbon emissions by 40% and produce low levels of waste going into landfill from the construction process. It will be open to the public with a café and exhibition spaces as well as thoroughfares for both walkers and cyclists. New landscaped areas will include a sensory garden, a courtyard and plenty of green space to create a calm environment for patients, visitors, workers, and residents alike. Architect-led Research Hawkins\Brown have collaborated with colleagues at UCL and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery to research the topic of colour and dementia. The first purpose of the research is to ensure that the interiors of the building enable accessibility and comfort for as many users as possible, particularly those with specific needs common to dementia, ageing and neurodegeneration. The second is our conviction that colour brings a sense of calm, joy, and delight to spaces, with obvious benefits to the wellbeing of all users of the building – specifically patients and the staff who are charged with their care. We would like our research to address the question of how a patient with dementia might view the world differently and how we could try to lessen their distress by the interior design of the building. The research will also consider the relationship between adjacent colours and how they are viewed, and how changes in natural and artificial light might affect the way a space is perceived by someone with a cognitive / visual neurodegenerative disorder.


 United Kingdom
 UCL , UK Dementia Research Institute , University College London Hospitals
 17800 mq
 Healthcare & Specialist laboratory planning, BMJ Architects; Landscape architect, Plincke;
 Planning Consultancy, Indigo; Transport & Logistics Consultancy, Momentum; Heritage Consultancy, Alan Baxter; Townscape Consultancy, Peter Stewart;
 Project Manager & Quantity Surveyor, Arcadis; Services Engineering, Hoare Lea; Structural, Acoustic & Vibration Engineer, Ramboll; Neighbourly Matters, GIA


Hawkins\Brown is one of the UK’s leading architecture and urban design practices, with studios in London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Dublin and Los Angeles. We are ranked No 7 in the Architects’ Journal Top 100. Our turnover has doubled since 2014/15 and we now have 280 plus staff. We have won 15 RIBA awards between 2015-2020 and are proud to be AJ100 Practice of the Year 2021.

Founded over 30 years ago by Partners Russell Brown and Roger Hawkins, the firm brings a collaborative approach to projects across a range of types and scale in six main sectors: civic, community & culture; education; workplace; transport & infrastructure; healthcare and residential.

Recently completed projects include the 20-year project to upgrade Tottenham Court Road Station; the refurbishment and extension of the Grade II-listed Plumstead Centre; a new Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Building for the University of Warwick; a new Student Centre and New Square for the University of Central Lancashire.


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