Ayrshire mental health facility

Design innovations to deliver a new mental health facility in Ayrshire 

Tetra Tech helped design and integrate Woodland View, a £47m acute mental health facility, into the existing North Ayrshire Community Hospital site in Irvine for rehabilitation care. 

From start of construction in 2014 to completion in 2016, Tetra Tech’s expert team consistently demonstrated innovative solutions to support operating flexibility, cost efficiency, and sustainability without impeding ongoing patient services. 

Images courtesy of CADZOW PELOSI 

Consisting of 206-bedrooms, the facility is primarily of a single-storey construction with a two-storey main entrance, localised wards and supporting clinical services and an energy centre.  

Challenging the design

The architects, IBI Group, convinced the NHS Board that amending the original scheme design from a two-storey structure would benefit clinical planning and the facility’s model of care.  

Subsequently, we challenged the structural aspects of this design, adopting a sustainable, and highly economical, timber frame construction in lieu of the steel originally proposed. We also introduced vibrated stone columns to support this economical, low-weight structure. In combination, these innovations lowered costs and simplified groundworks, saving the project significant time and providing a quieter and less intrusive construction in the live hospital environment. 

To further enhance construction productivity, we introduced steel fibres in the ground floor slabs to minimise the number and length of joints required. This allowed large pour areas, reducing construction costs and the ongoing maintenance of the vinyl floor finishes at the joint locations. 

It also provided a patient benefit as floor joints can be perceived as a barrier, which cannot be crossed, by some of the mental health patients the unit cares for. 

Planning Around Risk

Funding for the project was through a Non-Profit Distributing (NPD) model; however, the local authority imposed planning conditions on a culverted watercourse that fell outside the NPD site.  

To address the significant risk of project delay that this presented, our flood risk experts determined the overland flood routes for the wider site and negotiated a solution that set the building floors at levels that allowed for future climate change. Consequently, we achieved a 17-week timescale, from being awarded preferred bidder to financial close – the fastest yet managed on any Scottish NPD project.  

Environmental considerations

The construction techniques adopted, including the vibro-stone piling and a geotextile reinforced piling mat to minimise intrusive lorry movements (circa 1,000 movements saved), greatly reduced both the impact on adjacent live wards during construction and the project costs / construction timescale. Additionally, the steel-frame solution to the two-storey building proved more sustainable than equivalent concrete solutions with a lower embodied energy, less waste and a greater recycled content. 

Off-site construction was also used in the prefabrication of the timber frame to minimise storage requirements on-site and allow a just-in-time delivery and erection sequence. Bathroom pods were also factory manufactured and delivered with mechanical and electrical services pre-installed. 

As part of our energy strategy, the hospital facility features extensive natural ventilation to maximise carbon reduction and minimise running costs. The energy centre also accommodates multiple CHP boilers. 

Bat surveys carried out by Tetra Tech’s ecology team resulted in habitat reinstatement design and the provision of bat boxes. 

Better Mental Health Care 

On this challenging project, our multidisciplinary experts have delivered value engineering to significantly reduce both capital and running costs for this essential healthcare facility, whilst maintaining the quality and efficient operation of the building. 

Services Provided

Civil and Structural Engineering
Environmental Planning

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