Great Ormond Street Hospital


To support the development of the design for a specialist cancer centre and main hospital visitor entrance throughout RIBA stage 2 and 3.


John Sisk & Son


London, UK


Nov 2019 – May 2022

The challenge

John Sisk & Son led the design of a new building that will house a state-of-the-art Children’s Cancer Centre and serve as the main public entrance to the world-renowned Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust.

The design aimed to provide a welcome experience befitting such a high-profile institution and capacity to accommodate the range of activities for the delivery of top-tier medical services.  

Movement Strategies was commissioned to support the design and clinical teams with people movement assessment and advice through RIBA stages 2 and 3. This patient-centric approach was fundamental to the design of circulation spaces, public facilities, and the supporting operational strategy.

Our response

We began the study by collecting a wide range of data relating to patient and staff movement, demographics, and operational practices. This included on-site movement counts, CCTV footage analysis, visitor surveys and staff interviews. Analysis provided valuable insights into the needs of the hospital users, providing an evidence base for design decisions.

We used this data to assess staff and patient movement patterns in the current hospital and applied those insights to assess the new design, making recommendations to improve the comfort and efficiency of flow through public and clinical spaces.

We supported the design and clinical teams in developing patient flow concepts and created models to understand the required capacity of entrances, hospital routes and spaces such as waiting areas. We assessed the evacuation performance of the proposed building to help shape future emergency procedures.

Effective vertical circulation was essential to the success of the design. We worked to right-size the lift provision, minimising queueing and waiting times in the entrance areas, to create a welcoming entrance space for visitors.

We developed a bespoke lift model that went beyond demonstrating compliance with guidance. Over 1,700 simulations were undertaken to understand the impact of different lift specifications on the patient experience. This was also used to support facility operations by assessing the back-of-house lift core. These insights enabled the design team to find a balance between quality of service and the capex impact.

The study culminated in the creation of a 3D simulation of the new building to bring the people movement insights to life and to assess the dynamics of operational conditions during busy periods.

Movement Strategies gave us the confidence that the designs would meet the requirements of functionality, smooth-running and delight which are required for this world-class building. The entrance area is sufficiently spacious and the lift sizes and speeds give the appropriate waiting times.

- Michael Clarke, John Sisk & Son

The impact

The people movement assessment and 3D simulation provided a valuable evidence base for the design team to visualise and right-size spatial elements and processes for the new building.

The data analysis helped all stakeholder groups to understand the requirements for different hospital user groups within the hospital: the number of parents, children and visitors circulating through spaces, their accessibility needs and group size.

The analysis of patterns of patient and staff flow enabled the project team to understand how the new design may function. This enhanced space utilisation and efficiencies in patient flow through the new entrance and into the clinical spaces.

Our work added valuable evidence to underpin cost-benefit analysis for vertical circulation elements and helped mitigate the need for an additional lift. Our reports were included in the design submissions, evidencing the patient-centric approach, and ultimately supporting the acceptance of the design by the Trust.

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