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Central Surgery

by Hawkins\Brown

Client Central Surgery

RIBA East Award 2022

© Jack Hobhouse

This is a very impressive project that demonstrates the benefit of a long term and committed relationship between architect and client. What has emerged from a 10 year process of land acquisition and careful planning and positioning of the project to negotiate and ensure NHS funding, is a bespoke primary healthcare surgery where it should be: at the heart of its community. The town’s central surgery has been upgraded to reflect the exponential change that has affected GP practice over the last decade.

This project brought together an architect and the practice head early on to expand Sawbridgeworth’s central surgery in a signal collaboration. Early advice saw the opportunity of an adjacent site and established a deal with a developer to find space to enlarge the original surgery building. The judges were impressed by how, despite the additional awkwardness and disadvantageous VAT position, the original building was retained, de-cluttered and transformed in a way that doubles the available area. To do this in a way that kept the surgery operating throughout is extremely impressive.

The resulting facility creates a humane and calm environment for patients and for staff with an impact on the ability to attract and retain doctors and a significant support team – we were struck that the surgery employs around 30 people in the heart of the town. We also appreciated that, while incorporating a pharmacy into the new surgery would have brought much needed income, the decision was made to work with the existing pharmacy on the high street: an example of real care for the wider community.

This project exemplifies how a long term relationship with an architect can deliver on a number of levels, from getting the strategy right through to the detailed design of new, bespoke furniture, considered to support the empathy of the patient consultation. High quality, welcoming clinical spaces meet standards but without an institutional feel. The new clinical spaces have transformed their service offer without losing the intimacy of a local surgery, through the use of well proportioned, naturally lit waiting and circulation spaces.

The project has achieved BREEAM ‘Very Good’ and an EPC Rating B for its energy performance, while the embodied carbon calculation has bettered the RIBA 2030 benchmark, influenced by the approach to part-refurbish and retain as opposed to completely build new. Bio-based material use in the project is dominated by timber, while landscaping enhancements including the addition of habitat infrastructure have resulted in a project that demonstrates engagement with biophilic design principles to improve the patient experience.

Contractor MP Building

Quantity Surveyor / Cost Consultant Synergy

Structural Engineer
Haskins Robinson Waters

Landscape Architect Matt Lee

Interior Design Hawkins\Brown

M&E Consultant Method Consulting

Internal area 1,015 m2

© Jack Hobhouse
© Jack Hobhouse
© Jack Hobhouse
© Jack Hobhouse
© Hawkins\Brown
© Hawkins\Brown
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