Harlow health centre brings history to life


New building increases patient capacity threefold

History has come to life once again with the opening of a new health centre in Harlow, Essex.

Designed by CAMM Architects, the former Lister House Health Centre has been redeveloped as part of a multi-million-pound bid to increase patient capacity threefold.

Funded with support from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking; the development was commissioned by Harlow Health Centres Trust and the design was informed through feedback from patient groups and clinical staff.

CAMM Architects’ Paul Young explains: “The design is inspired by the heroic period of the Modern Movement and its influence in the New Town Masterplan.

“We also went back to the 1938 timepiece at the Finsbury Health Centre to capture some of the social idealism of Berthold Lubetkin.

“The final design has been influenced by those buildings of the early New Town and its pioneering approach to healthcare architecture.

“We have used the simple formula of a ‘box on a box’ to encapsulate the largest area for the fewest external walls to maximise the usable space.

“And we have brought light and air into the centre of the building. making for a cheerful and uplifting experience, with light colours and rooflights connecting the internal rooms with the sky.

The interiors of the building are bright and airy

The interiors of the building are bright and airy

“We want to make people feel better just by entering the space.”

This simple plan enables easy wayfinding and the use of natural light into the centre of the building helps to guide patients into the well-laid-out reception area, which has been designed to look more like a boutique hotel.

Visibility up and through the building allows for passive surveillance by staff and the white exterior walls and bright-coloured window panels aim to lift the spirts of all users.

Young said: “The oversailing upper floors form a continuous port cochere around the building, with the thin columns holding the upper floor down rather than huge stumpy columns propping up an austere lump.”

To minimise the development’s impact on the environment, insulation has been maximised and a heating a cooling package improves thermal performance. Concrete slabs also help to keep the building cool in the summer and keep the heat in in the winter. Sign up for your free email newsletter

Artwork is a key element of the interior design, with the inclusion of Tim Shutters’ public art piece, the Magic Jumping Bean, which was inspired by a medicine capsule and was specially commissioned for the building.