Off Horfield Road, Bristol, BS2 8HW
Completed 2008, opened to patients in 2009
The façade has white render, glass and copper
The foyer of the Bristol Heart Institute is open for the general public to view the atrium of the award-winning building and its artwork. Please note that this is a working hospital and the BHI requests that visitors respect the needs of staff to perform their duties and patients’ treatment and recovery.
The Bristol Heart Institute (opened 2009) brings ordinary materials together in a visually appealing way. These are glass, white rendered surfaces and pre-patinated copper (made blue-green in advance rather than waiting for weathering). The main facade is particularly striking and has a coloured-light artwork over the entrance. Copper features stand out against the white walls and include the main entrance surround, the long (100 metre) single-pitch roof and the terrace canopy.
The entrance leads into a central open atrium, built to let in natural light and enhanced by artworks and indoor trees. The BHI was designed by Bristol-based CODA Architects, who believe in sustainability and design on a human scale. So, copper is used for its durability and low maintenance, staff were involved throughout the design to make facilities easy for them to use, and specially commissioned artworks promote patient well-being. CODA has created an atmosphere of calm healing in a space that feels less clinical than many hospitals.
CODA stands for Collaborative Design + Architecture, and the architects worked hard here to keep to their belief that buildings must work closely with people’s lives. Art has been used creatively to make the place patient and visitor friendly. Artist Jo Fairfax produced a coloured-light fixture that curves along the front of the building like a wave. Linda Schwab has continued the natural theme with stencilled, filigree-like artwork of oversized bark and leaf rubbings on the white render of the wall along the pedestrian walkway. She designed this to echo a small area of mature woodland nearby. Building Better Healthcare gave the building a Best Use of Visual Art in Healthcare award (it also won the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Ibstock Premier Award). Outside balconies on the patient area are subdivided by vertical copper ‘fins’ and provide patients with views of the woodland.
This is also a state-of-the-art medical facility – a research and learning space as well as a medical centre with operating theatres and wards. The building has been designed with future expansion in mind, allowing the Institute to stay at the forefront of cardiac practice.
Photography: ©Frances Gard
Head of Division of Specialised Services