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BDP delivers healthy hq for the royal college of physicians

BDP’s engineers and designers have completed work on the new award winning headquarters for The Royal College of Physicians' (RCP) in Liverpool.

The new, £35 million northern headquarters is known as The Spine, taking its name from a striking staircase on its north elevation that resembles human vertebrae. The facility is at the heart of the medical and scientific precinct in city, an area focused on providing world class healthcare, including the new Clatterbridge Cancer Centre and the Royal Liverpool Hospital.


The Spine now provides facilities for medical examinations and assessments, educational courses and conferences, an exhibition space, and office areas for RCP staff. The Spine also boasts spectacular city views and on the top floor features large conference rooms and a fine dining space.

The 160,000 sq ft building, set in the Knowledge Quarter in Liverpool is one of the healthiest workspaces for mental and physical wellbeing in the UK and is among the first to aim to achieve the international WELL Platinum standard as well as the BREEAM Outstanding certification.

The building is being measured against its design for features that support human health and wellbeing, comprising seven concepts of air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. The WELL Platinum award would confirm The Spine’s status as a world-leading example of biophilic, sustainable design and engineering that supports mental and physical wellbeing for staff and visitors.

BDP worked closely with architect AHR to deliver building services engineering services, lighting and acoustics design consultancy for the fit out of the facility.


Steve Merridew, Building Services Engineering Director at BDP, explains: “This has been an outstanding project to be a part of. From the outset, the aim to achieve WELL Platinum meant we had a major focus on green, healthy design. You can see the direction as soon as you enter the building. Three double-height spaces on the ground, 10th and 12th floors, with planters containing high-oxygen-producing plants improve the internal environment and provide soft fascination for the building users.

“You can tell immediately that this building is set up differently. It is a beautiful and welcoming place to be and in the background the sustainability and HVAC installations make it one of the healthiest workplaces in the UK. We are so proud that this amazing space adds to the innovative healthcare environments we are creating in the Knowledge Quarter in Liverpool.”

Heating is provided from a new, low carbon district heat network, mitigating the emission of local pollutants and helping the city respond to the climate emergency. Ventilation is provided by a demand-controlled variable air volume system, supplied from air handling plant with heat recovery exceeding the minimum required for building regulations. Cooling is provided by high efficiency, air cooled condensers on the roof.


Merridew continues: “The wellbeing requirements of this project means we are monitoring and controlling pollutants in the workspace using sensors for CO2, particulates and VOCs so that we can raise ventilation rates, if required.  The conference and catering facilities on the top floor posed a particular challenging due to the high occupant densities. So we have installed dedicated air handling units which automatically respond to the fluctuating loads. It’s a highly intelligent, flexible and efficient solution that keeps this building at the top of building innovation for health and wellbeing.”

Additionally, the lighting design creates an intimate and diverse scene which continues the aesthetic standard of the RCP’s London offices. It creates a warm, vibrant environment with focus on flexibility and user wellbeing, whilst being sympathetic and complementary to the building’s architectural form, function and construction.

The Spine has won the Plants@Work award for its biophilic installations and took home the project of the year award at the Constructing Excellence awards. It was also the winner of the BCO Regional Innovation award, being described as “an impeccable example of how #workplacedesign can support cultural change."


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