Hospital ‘corridor in the sky’ completed
A new link bridge from the helipad on the Sheppard Robson-designed Grafton Street car park roof into Manchester Royal Infirmary will enable critically ill or injured patients to be transported by helicopter straight to the city-centre hospitals.
This includes transport of patients from around the region to the Emergency Departments at Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI) and Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital (RMCH), which are next to the link bridge. Suspended 18 metres above street-level, the 130 metre-long link bridge was developed by design practice, Sheppard Robson, in partnership with Bruntwood (the Trust’s strategic development partner), for the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT).
Prior to its construction, critically ill or injured adults, children, and babies, were flown to a secondary landing site in Platt Fields Park, for transfer by road ambulance to the hospital. The new bridge will not only save time and ‘safeguard patients from any additional trauma of a prolonged and uncomfortable journey’, but, it is estimated, the new helicopter landing site will allow over 300 patients to be airlifted directly to the hospital campus each year.
The longest span reaches 40 m, with the link bridge clad in stainless steel panels. Sheppard Robson says the material choice and ‘varied architectural form’ will allow the bridge to integrate into the skyline, and ‘become animated’ as light conditions change. In all, 13 routes were tested during the feasibility stage, with the design team negotiating a site where tricky challenges included:
- Working around the Grade II-listed Pankhurst Centre, which ultimately shaped the bridge’s design.
- Spanning a busy road at the heart of the hospital campus.
- Construction close to a high dependency ward, and on the roof of the HDU, which remained open throughout.
- Working on site continuously during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alex Solk, Partner at Sheppard Robson, said: “It’s wonderful to see such an important project for Manchester and the wider region complete. We and the Trust wanted the design to signify the importance of this life-saving addition to MFT’s Oxford Road Campus; hence its striking geometric form. The choice of iridescent, shimmering cladding only serves to heighten this.”
Other key players on the project included main contractor, Engie Regen, structural engineers, Hill Canon, MEP engineer, Redworth Associates, cladding sub-contractor, Curtis Moore, with glare analysis by Arup Lighting.