Green Architect, Extension to London Hospital: A Case Study

Dr Ken Yeang is a UK-based architect, with a principal practice in London and a sister company in Malaysia, and many professorships and architectural positions around the world, including the US, Hawaii, and Shanghai. He is known as both an architect and an ecologist, bringing into all his designs and planning a sense of ‘the outside in’, or as he describes it, as a “bio-integration – of physical, systemic and temporal worlds coming together.”

He is particularly well known as a designer of ecologically-conscious skyscrapers, or as he calls them “bioclimactic skyscrapers”, of which he has built several in Malaysia, that use recycled water systems, solar technology, and vegetation growing up the outside of the building. These are pioneering structures in the whole field of architecture, as well as the smaller field of green or sustainable architecture. Yeang has been called ‘one of the world’s foremost designers’ and is a noted authority on ecologically responsive buildings, with several books published on this subject.

Great Ormond Street Hospital: a Green Extension

Through his London-based architectural and planning firm, Llewelyn Davies Yeang, Ken Yeang has been responsible for the design and construction of a new green wing of the renown London Hospital at Great Ormond Street the district of Camden. “We are right now in a momentous time in the endeavour of green design”, Yeang said in an interview recently; “I don’t believe we have built the ultimate green building yet, but we are making advances.”

The hospital at Great Ormond Street is well-known as an NHS run childrens hospital. In 2008 Llewelyn Davies Yeang won the contract and then planning approval for a major rebuilding and refurbishment of part of the hospital. This is phase 2 of a longer-term 4 part redevelopment programme. These plans have developed into 2 new buildings, comprising of a new clinical building, and a cardiac wing. The building work started in October 2008 and is currently scheduled to be completed by the winter of 2011. The entire project is forecast to cost 300 million pounds, and will include new wards, clinical facilities including operating theatres, offices and a new restaurant, covering some 30,000 square metres.

Green Aspects of the New Extension’s Design

In examining the brief from the NHS, Yeang sought to illuminate green and sustainable aspects in the planning and execution of the new building and refurbishment of the old. The NHS trust had requested that the architect should ‘significantly raise the bar on sustainability’, as well as remain a good neighbour within the Camden community, and also remain a place of healing and medical excellence. “I always look at the ecology of the site in which we build,” Yeang said. “I see green design as having a mandate to actually restore eco-systems on the ground,” Yeang continued: “by monitoring and mapping out the taxonomies of a site, and considering the lifecycle of the built environment, green architects can actually rectify any environmental damage.” He cited some existing examples of his work – the Editt Tower in Singapore, and a green master plan for a commercial park in Turkey, which bore out these aspirations.

Specific green and sustainable aspects of the design for the hospital’s extension include:

  • a central circulation hub that links all facilities, and allows easy movement of people and air

  • natural ventilation access throughout all areas of the building

  • glass extrusions across the entire facade, allowing plenty of light in, with options for solar heating

  • the estimated ability to offset approximately 20,000 tons of CO2 annually, through energy saving and energy creation

As the plans for the extension developed, Yeang and his firm worked stringently to UK and International laws and guidelines for green buildings, and the plan has won the approval of the Office of the Mayor of London, and a BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating of 77% from the Building Research Establishment.