Hybrid theatres, University Hospital Wales

Cardiff, Wales


Cardiff and Vale University Health Board


Cardiff, Wales


£30 million

A unique theatre complex design includes a theatre for vascular and arterial surgery and a major trauma theatre.

The challenge

We were appointed to develop two new theatres to support the implementation of major trauma and vascular surgery, with arterial surgery and more complex endovascular interventions centralised at the University Hospital Wales (UHW) site. The development will ensure the long-term sustainability of trauma and vascular services at UHW, and patients will receive a service that delivers the highest possible care at any time of day.

The theatres needed to be connected to the existing general theatre department on the fifth floor of an adjacent building. This presented a considerable challenge requiring an innovative approach to the building design. The specialist equipment, unique in the UK at the time, required installation in an extremely sensitive environment which needed to accommodate sliding CT gantries and ceiling supported C-arms.

Our approach

We collaborated with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Willmott Dixon Construction to develop a detailed brief. Consultation with surgeons, anaesthetists, nursing staff and radiation protection officers also strongly informed our design. We worked closely with Philips Healthcare who provided the equipment, including floating C-arms, and unique sliding CT gantries to ensure well-coordinated surgical theatre functions. Using all the information we gathered, we proposed and fine-tuned theatre layouts via design workshops, to meet the needs of all stakeholders.

We subsequently worked through a number of site-specific challenges, including the location of the theatres which were to be supported five stories above ground level along a tree lined avenue with Tree Protection Orders.

The results

The theatres are elevated and supported several storeys up on tall, slender columns. To control building height, the supporting plant room is located directly below the theatres. A lift and stair core rises from ground to theatre-level and a dramatic glazed bridge link connects the new theatres to the existing hospital theatre department on the fifth floor of the adjacent building. The new surgical theatres with state-of-the-art equipment enable patients to be treated in a single session rather than two separate procedures. These modern theatres secure the future of major trauma and image-guided vascular surgery at UHW.

Illustrations by courtesy of Koninklijke Philips N.V