Off-site construction delivers two-storey, 5,600m2 building in record time... meet urgent need for extra capacity over winter

Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust needed to increase capacity in time for the peak winter period. The new building needed to accommodate a children’s department, an elective care centre and a surgical ward.

Kier Eastern was appointed as Principal Supply Chain Partner to provide the new facility. A £10m subcontract was awarded to the Portakabin Group for the off-site construction of the new two-storey building, using its advanced Portakabin Design and Build solution.

Choosing an off-site solution reduced the programme time by six months, minimising disruption to patient care by allowing an existing ward building to remain in use until just days before the second phase of modules arrived.

“Speed was the principle reason for using a modular solution for the building… The finished building is very impressive. It provides a good patient environment both for children in the Children’s Department and for adults in the Elective Care Centre and the new surgical ward. It addresses the issues of patient privacy and dignity, and we are pleased with the ambience, feel, space and quiet.”

Nick Chatten, Director of Corporate Development, Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust

The Portakabin Group manufactured and fitted out the 148 steel-framed modules, measuring up to 14m long and 3.3m wide, at its facility in York. These were installed on site in two phases over a 17-day period. The units arrived partially fitted with internal partitioning and first-fix M&E services.

A pre-installed concrete floor was used in every module – the first time this award-winning technology had been used for a complete building. The high-performance floor is an innovative solution used for high-traffic areas and to accommodate sensitive hospital equipment.

Designed by Tangram Architects, the building has created an attractive and welcoming environment for staff and patients. It presents a striking architectural feature in a prominent location next to the hospital’s main entrance, with deeply articulated façades in a palette of materials, including white render, vertical bands of rainscreen cladding and curtain walling.

The children’s department on the ground floor is arranged around two large central courtyards, which provide a protected play area and a sensory garden. Internally it features multi-coloured and patterned flooring, walls in bright colours, murals and a distinctive design for the reception and nurses’ station.

Building Location


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