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A cool green hot solution for Addenbrooke's hospital

They may look like regular flats and apartments, but the four buildings at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge conceal structural and design features to meet the demands and lifestyle of the residents – and have the potential to influence the local economy massively.
A cool green hot solution for Addenbrooke
Property and construction consultancy McBains Cooper was commissioned to manage the £20million, 292 apartment, Sanctuary Housing Association project but the team had a particularly challenging brief: a very tight window to complete the work with issues relating to demands on hot water systems and sound insulation.

'First, this was a two year project that had to be delivered in 18 months come-what-may because the hospital needed to bring in healthcare professionals fast - and keep them there,' said Jo Churchill of McBains Cooper.

'Second, we had to design in a number of unusual elements to cater for the work cycle of the residents who are all doctors or nurses.

'The medical staff work in shifts, and those shifts change at times when normal residential properties would be quiet so there are huge peaks of demand on the building's systems at unusual times, for example, the need for large volumes of hot water in the middle of the afternoon or early hours of the morning when dozens or more people run baths or showers at the same time.

'The solution was to ditch the normal central heating boiler-based system, and to heat water through solar panels and feed it into large tanks where it was kept hot. This also helped achieve the 10% renewables requirement.

'The next issue was noise: the last thing an exhausted medical professional needs after a double shift is to suffer broken sleep, so we had to pay particular attention to the acoustic qualities of the building.

'This we achieved by modular manufacturing most of the building off site which also helped address the time constraints and by bringing in special twin wall panels from Germany, which were then filled with high density concrete.

'At each stage of the development of these wall panels we consulted acoustic specialists who assessed the likely effectiveness of this sound-deadening to ensure it was as efficient as possible, and which makes these flats among the quietest of their type in the world.

'Finally, in a city like Cambridge, where it is very difficult to find centrally-located accommodation for key workers, the whole project has a potentially much bigger impact. It has brought in hundreds of people, and this will clearly have an effect on the local economy.

'And as such, this type of development clearly has massively positive implications for other towns and cities that need centrally-located accommodation for key workers, and need it fast,' she added.

15 September 2010


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