The HELIX Centre was designed as part of a project in collaboration with students on the Royal College of Art’s Architecture course. The temporary studio, or pavilion, was planned to accommodate HELIX, the research group formed between the RCA and the Imperial College NHS Trust in a dedicated structure.
HELIX, which is short for Healthcare Innovation Exchange, seeks to determine ways in which design can improve and affect healthcare in the context of St Mary’s Paddington, one of the largest and busiest hospitals in the capital. The initiative aimed to re-evaluate how the NHS works, compelling those involved to think more about issues in healthcare.
The design of this small structure, around 10 × 6 m in area, was opened to undergraduate students at the RCA via a competition, and a team of three students was selected. Collaborating with students was a fruitful experience for AKT II, encouraging us to question and justify our structural decisions, as well as revaluating some of the basics of design. The chosen pavilion, which was to be located outside St Mary’s Hospital, was based around the concept of simple, IKEA-style furniture: low-tech and simple to assemble, but clean-cut and aesthetically pleasing.
The system utilised engineered Kerto timber beams to realise the architects’ vision, combined with panels of glazing against the sides and a partially glazed roof. Due to the sensitive location of the structure, close to the private section of the hospital, and the necessity to construct quickly and with minimal disruption, the structure was prefabricated in its totality off-site. It was installed in two sections over a period of several days in December 2014. The building is of high quality and has been well crafted by the contractor.
The building provides a warm and uplifting environment, particularly conducive to promoting a workplace for creative thought, collaboration and discussion. The high-quality execution of the building is a testament to the craftsmanship and level of care employed by the contractor.
An IKEA-inspired healthcare research pavilion for St Mary’s Hospital in London
Royal College of Art, Imperial College London
RCA Architect Students