Salus journal

Healthy Planet. Healthy People.

Cancer care / Quality improvement

European Healthcare Design 2022

The Grafton Way Building – delivering to the limits

By SALUS User Experience Team 01 Nov 2022 0

This paper will present an overview of the Grafton Way Building scheme, detailing the key challenges faced in the delivery of this project, which will form a cornerstone of UCLH’s service offering.


The University College London Hospital Grafton Way Building marks the completion of the overall masterplan for redevelopment of UCLH’s Bloomsbury Campus. The brief was to create a world-class, modern, safe and responsive healthcare environment, facilitating better outcomes, an improved environment for patients, visitors and staff, and a clinical service delivery that reflects UCLH as a world-class centre of excellence.

This landmark building houses innovative proton beam therapy (PBT) treatment, eight theatres, a day surgery suite, imaging, a critical care unit, and inpatient wards for patients with blood disorders, making it one of Europe’s largest dedicated haem-oncology hospitals. The revolutionary PBT centre is one of only two providing this new treatment for the NHS across the UK.

To meet the clinical brief, the 11-storey building comprises seven storeys above ground and four below ground. The building is characterised by its generosity of space, light, transparency and sensory encounters to offer respite from city life and the busy surrounding area. To respect surrounding heritage, and light and sight lines, the building is stepped back across its section and split into two blocks: the L-shaped main block and a smaller courtyard block, connected by a spacious, light-filled atrium. This atrium brings natural daylight down through the building, through a deep plan and six floor levels, to filter into all inpatient rooms. This is particularly important for the wellbeing of long-term cancer patients who are immuno-compromised and confined to their room for long periods. The innovative facade design and external ‘veil’ provide solar shading and layers of privacy for patient rooms from outside, while allowing openness, connectivity and visibility to the outside world for the patient, countering any sense of isolation that can accompany extended hospital stays.

The overall structure is designed to provide maximum flexibility for repurposing, and the design has been developed through a highly collaborative process to incorporate ambitious sustainability and BREEAM design criteria.

The project reinstates the urban block that was in part derelict for decades, with a scale and massing that respects and restores the city grid. Material selection, colour palette, motifs and artworks are guided by a ‘natural garden’ theme, designed to complement the therapeutic facilities, and aid wellbeing and recovery by creating a calming and uplifting environment.