Concept design of the new children’s hospital is unveiled

Minister Leo Varadkar shares the design of the hospital and its satellite centres with the Youth Advisory Council.

The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board and the Children’s Hospital Group highlight progress on this significant project to provide the best infrastructure for paediatric services on a local, national and all-island basis

Dublin, April 30th; Minister Leo Varadkar, together with the NPHDB Project Director, John Pollock and Eilísh Hardiman, CEO of the Children’s Hospital Group shared images of the proposed external design of the new children’s hospital with a group of children and young people who have been providing input, advice and feedback on the new hospital and its services. Members of the Youth Advisory Council met with Minister Leo Varadkar and the project directors at the Office of the Ombudsman for Children as part of its regular series of engagement sessions on the planned new hospital.

The proposed design, which incorporates the two satellite hospitals planned for Tallaght and Blanchardstown, delivers on the ambition to build one of the finest children’s hospitals which will positively impact the lives of children on the island for generations. The sharing of the image with stakeholder groups today marks a significant milestone in the new children’s hospital project.

The distinctive oval shape and therapeutic gardens on the roof and surrounding the hospital respond to the brief shared with the design team last autumn. The overarching objective for the project is to provide the best infrastructure for paediatric services and gives the new children’s hospital a memorable quality that captures the imagination of children and young people with a unique sense of place. It will also provide the best facilities to support the staff of the three existing children’s hospitals to continue to deliver excellent care.

Minister Varadkar said: “This breath-taking design does its job really well. It’s clear from the open-plan building, the gardens, the sports facilities, and the state-of-the-art wards that this is a unique building. I’m delighted that the Youth Advisory Council were the first people to review the design. I know the project team is engaging in extensive consultation and engagement with all key groups but it’s the young people, the current and future users, who are central to the project. And I’m delighted to say that their response has been really positive.

“This is the largest health infrastructure project in the history of the State. But it’s only when you see a model or an artist’s impression that you realise just how much work has gone into the project, and I want to commend the Development Board for reaching this stage. We will all be really proud of this iconic Hospital when it’s built.”

Eilísh Hardiman, CEO, Children’s Hospital Group said: “Our design brief was deliberately challenging. It is critical that our ambitions from the outset are for the highest possible design standards as our children and young people deserve nothing less. I believe that the hospital design, together with that of the two satellite centres will support enhanced clinical outcomes for children and young people in Ireland.  The needs of children and young people, their families and the teams of people who will work in paediatrics are been taken into account. We will continue to engage and consult with all key groups as we finalise all aspects of this great hospital providing services on a local, national and all-island basis.”

John Pollock, Project Director, NPHDB said: “Today marks a significant milestone in the project. The external design is advancing and we are finalising the internal layout. We are currently engaged in continuous consultation with employees of the existing hospitals, with residents, with patient advocacy groups and with family representatives. They are giving us significant input, feedback and advice. We are well on the way to delivering on the vision of creating one of the finest children’s hospitals in the world and are delighted to share the image broadly today.”


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Editor’s Notes

Background to the Design

The design team were asked to consider a number of factors when developing the building design – below is their response to each element:

Identity – it is important to give the new children’s hospital a memorable quality that captures the imagination of children and young people and gives it a unique sense of place.


Nature – the therapeutic benefits of the outdoors, which also offer opportunities for learning, play and distraction was important as was the creation of an environment that is inherently sustainable. The gardens, playdecks and terraces incorporated in the design offer a range of outdoor spaces that are rare in a hospital context.

Scale – it is important that the child’s view is considered from the outset. It is important to ensure that orientation is simplified, that different areas are distinguishable from each other, ensuring that the space is less daunting and  more in keeping with the scale of things familiar to children like houses and trees.

Innovation – this facility will incorporate the best advances in medical architecture and clinical practice and will be one of the finest children’s hospitals in the world.

A therapeutic environment that, in the words of the design brief is “conducive to well-being and raises the spirits of children, young people, visitors and staff”. The building’s form will be memorable and welcoming, creating a supportive context to reduce stress, improve the patient and family experience and assist recovery.

The images shared today highlight how the four storey building (rising to seven stories at its highest point above ground) sits comfortably within the existing St. James’s Hospital campus, the first views of the hospital being an oval pavilion set in a therapeutic rooftop garden.  The garden is an integral part of the design as it will give a tangible sense of this being a special place – one for children and young people, elevated above the world of adults.

Below the elevated garden, the elements which will be distinguishable immediately are the main entrance and the outpatient clusters. These project out like welcoming arms on either side of a generous entrance piazza, drawing visitors towards the hospital’s front door. The curved form of the ward pavilion reveals itself most clearly above the main entrance, extending down to ground level as a double-height glazed screen that allows the piazza and entrance concourse to feel like an uninterrupted public space. Once inside, visitors will find themselves in what instinctively feels like the heart of the hospital – a four-storey high space that visually connects all the building’s principal levels.

Further Detail about the Design

A multi-level day-lit concourse connects the main entrance with the hospital’s other principal public entrance from the LUAS, a 2-minute walk away. The concourse extends down to a lower ground level providing access to a number of clinical areas as well as the main visitor car park situated below the entrance.  On the west side of the concourse, overlooking the South Circular, the outpatient clusters are grouped within four wings arranged around three garden courtyards. Reception and waiting areas are placed between the wings, open to the concourse on one side and the gardens on the other. On the east side of the concourse state-of-the-art clinical facilities include 42 beds in critical care unit and 18 neonatal critical care units, Operating Theatres incorporating interventional radiology suites and an Emergency Department with its own dedicated access.

Shops, cafes, restaurants and information points line the concourse, facing you as you come through the main entrance. The shape of the ward oval above is intimated by the curved west side of the atrium, reminding visitors of the building’s distinctive external form. The oval-shaped garden, a modern reinterpretation of the courtyard at the heart of the nearby former Royal Hospital at Kilmainham, forms a secure, sheltered environment for ten of the hospital’s thirteen wards.  The wards provide 380 single in-patient rooms, with ensuite bathrooms and an overnight bed for parents.  Other family accommodation includes 60-bed facility near the entrance.

Key Facts about the building

  • Seven stories tall at its height with the majority of the building sitting at four storeys
  • 42 beds in critical care unit
  • 18 neonatal critical care units
  • 380 single in-patient rooms