Dyson Center for Neonatal Care

A pioneering holistic and therapeutic approach has delivered a new low carbon, healthy healthcare unit allowing the staff to practise developmental care for 500 premature and sick babies each year.

About this project

The Dyson Centre is the first UK clinical healthcare unit to be built using exposed timber surfaces. The centre includes wood panelling and plenty of natural daylight. Medical equipment is hidden to create a sense of well-being for patients and families.

After the building opened, a research team was set up to measure the effect of the new building on staff, parents, babies and the environment. Its results show the new building is quieter and more energy efficient. Staff spend more time in clinical rooms, parent and baby interaction has improved, and babies sleep 20% longer.

The building is one of the first examples of the use of CLT in a healthcare environment; it demonstrates that the material can help to achieve a sustainable agenda, its surfaces can meet the requirements for infection control and it can create spaces which are calming and comfortable to users and staff.

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) consists of a single storey new-build extension, and the refurbishment of the space occupied by the existing NICU facility. The new-build element accommodates the clinical, support and reception functions as a discreet but contemporary intervention between the Princess Anne Wing and the Wolfeson building. The refurbishment element comprises staff and parents' facilities.

Leading the way for sustainable healthcare design

Located at Bath's Royal United Hospital the NICU is an innovative project at the forefront of neo-natal intensive care across the UK. Part of the brief was for the project to lead the way for sustainable healthcare design - a template for future projects that challenges current healthcare design.

Treatment rooms are arranged in sequence with intensive care units at the start and recovering patient rooms at the end making the ever-decreasing intensity of care experiential for parents as the development of their babies progresses. From parents’ feedback, progress along this ‘route’ is very important psychologically.

The project has achieved BREEAM 'Excellent' and incorporates a sedum roof for rainwater attenuation, and to increase biodiversity on the site.

Use of Timber

The superstructure of the centre was constructed entirely from cross-laminated timber and was built in 3 weeks, providing a quick and clean construction method within a healthcare environment. The timber is exposed internally, creating a calm and domestic environment within an acute clinical setting. As the architects explain 'The timber solution provided an opportunity to challenge healthcare construction, and look at a more sustainable material with a low embodied energy. The opportunity to expose the timber internally was maximised. This creates a sense of calm, which, when combined with the quality of daylight and sunlight, will help lower stress levels and lift the spirits for the parents and the staff.'


RIBA Award 2012: National & South West Client of the Year

Building Better Healthcare Award 2012: Best Inpatient Facility Design - Winner

Design & Health International Academy Award 2012: Int Sustainable Design & Int Health Project (Under 40,000 sqm) - Highly Commended

RICS Award (National) 2012 - Highly Commended

SW Built Environment Awards 2012: Project of the Year & Innovation - winner

Further information

Challenging Healthcare design - the research aspect


Architect's perspective

Client's perspective

ImagesFotohaus; FCB Studios

Key contacts


Royal United Hospital Bath


FCB Studios


Vinci Construction

Structural Engineer

Buro Happold

Timber supplier


Back to Case Studies

Submit a case study

Share your timber projects with us and we will feature them on this site and via our newsletter.

Submit case study

Get the Wood for Good Newsletter