Barkentine NHS LIFT Scheme, Tower Hamlets

Barkentine is a state-of-the-art, new-build primary care health centre for the provision of GP facilities, transitional primary care, birthing, dental and community services with an on-site pharmacy and café.  The development has been delivered through the NHS LIFT (Local Improvement Finance Trust) initiative which aims to improve and develop frontline primary and community care facilities by allowing PCTs (Primary Care Trusts) to invest in new facilities that offer integrated health services to patients in a purpose-built environment.

Value-engineering, space optimisation and safety were all key elements of the brief for the scheme’s fire design and FDS Consult was brought in to apply the company’s innovative and problem-solving approach to the building’s specific requirements.

One of the key challenges was the birthing centre located on the third floor of the Barkentine centre.  With patients in labour or having just given birth in this area of the building, normal evacuation principles could not be applied.  Drawing on the company’s expertise in health sector projects FDS Consult responded by:

  • Negotiating with the approving authorities to take a more creative and pragmatic approach to the evacuation strategy.
  • Devising a considerate compartmentation and more progressive, horizontal evacuation approach (similar to the type of strategy usually found in hospital environments).
  • Saving time and costs by implementing this strategy which involved minimal works compared to the alternatives.

FDS Consult took the same solutions-driven approach to developing the fire strategy across the building, including justifying optimised compartments to allow atria within the scheme’s design.  The company also worked around NHS guidelines to remove sprinklers and smoke venting systems from the specification which kept costs to a minimum, whilst maintaining the overall safety standards of the development and achieving fire approvals.

Thanks to FDS Consult’s experience the Barkentine scheme benefited from:

  • Total cost savings of £150K.
  • Extended travel distances.
  • Reduced staircase/exit widths.
  • Modified compartmentation to allow open spaces and adequate protection to escape routes.


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