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NHS Nightingale Hospital London


Location Client Size
London, UK NHS England 115,000 sqm

Project details

The conversion of the ExCeL London exhibition centre into an emergency COVID-19 hospital facility with 4,000 beds, delivering the first 500 in just nine days.

BDP worked closely with clinicians, consultants, contractors, including main contractor CFES, the ExCeL facilities management team and the British Army, ensuring that every bed could be fitted with all the equipment required to treat seriously ill patients, cared for by dedicated staff in full PPE equipment.

The bed heads and service corridors were constructed from a component system that is usually used to construct exhibition stands and there was some simple reinforcement to allow services to be fitted to the walls. Minimal building intervention enabled maximum use of the building's assets.

Clinical flows determined the circulation strategy within the building. The wards are linked with a temporary tunnel across a boulevard which allows connection to the diagnostics area. Staff move from the boulevard to and from the ICU wards via the don and doff rooms, allowing PPE to be donned and doffed, which is key to infection control.

Building Services Engineering

The ExCeL centre’s existing electrical infrastructure was modified to increase the resilience, UPS and temporary generators. The temporary electrics used for exhibitions were used to feed a 3m section of bed head dado trunking prefabricated by electricians on site.

The medical gas installation comprised two distribution ring mains run around the basement car park at high level, rising up to feed each bed head through the services floor boxes and then distributed to the bed head via the service corridor.

NHS Nightingale Instruction Manual - a compilation of the different concepts that have been adopted for the emergency COVID-19 facility at NHS Nightingale Hospital has been created so that information can be disseminated quickly across the UK and more globally. Solutions will be different for different sites but the poster shows strategies that we adopted based on the programme and the circumstances at the ExCeL centre.


  • repurpose, with minimal new construction techniques, an exhibition centre into a hospital
  • follow on from a study, undertaken a week before the project, proposing the use of exhibition centres for large-scale temporary ICU facilities


  • a healthcare facility that has been built safely and rapidly due to conceptual thinking and a rigorous approach to procurement and construction
  • principles that will benefit subsequent and similar project
  • CIBSE - Covid-19 Achievement Award 2020
  • Collaboration of the Year 2021

Integrated services

architecture, building services engineering