The new facility comprises two speciality centres, the Northern Centre for Cancer Treatment (NCCT) and the Renal Services Centre (RSC), which are united by a shared glazed atrium. The elevational and massing treatment of the facility provides each centre with its own distinct identity whilst maintaining a coherent visual relationship with the existing hospital and its urban context – largely low-rise brick housing.
The graceful curved copper clad form of the RSC contrasts with the traditional brick of the NCCC and references the copper roof of a nearby church and community buildings to reaffirm The Freeman as an important public building. Copper was also chosen as it is a high-quality material with excellent life cycle cost gains, lasting around 70 years in comparison to the more usual 25 years of most cladding materials.
The innovative application of copper in diagonal strips, using a reverse joint, enhanced the shadows to create a unique patterned effect on the façade. The sea green copper façade projects from its dark brick plinth, creating further contrasts whilst also grounding the RSC. This method of shingles required great craftsmanship, having to be hand-pressed on site. The dramatic usage and application of copper has effectively elevated the status of The Freeman, creating a gateway to the hospital for people arriving from the Metro station and a memorable sense of place for the local community.
Specialist copper contractor: Varla (UK) using KME
Main contractor: Laing O'Rourke