top of page

The Pears Building

Project Discription

BMJ has completed the design for Wilmott Dixon for the new Pears Building at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, London.  The new research building, conceptually designed by prestigious practice Hopkins Architects, creates laboratory research and write-up space for the UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation, a patient hotel, new offices for the Royal Free Charity as well as a covered car park serving the hospital site.

Situated on a tight site next to the Hospital, the new 7 storey building brings together leading scientists, academic clinicians and clinical trials specialists to develop revolutionary treatments and therapies for conditions such as type 1 diabetes, cancer and organ rejection after transplantation.  The close physical location of research and clinical facilities to patients allows faster transition of medical breakthroughs into real world.  This integration of patient care and research will accelerate medical innovation and give patients access to novel therapies that are unavailable elsewhere. The patient hotel offers those taking part in research, outpatients with high need, patient family members and visiting academics accommodation on the top floors of the building, complete with stunning views across Hampstead Heath.

To deliver global leading healthcare research the building’s laboratories were designed to a general level of ACDP 2 but areas dealing with pathogens particularly harmful to humans were designed and constructed to ACDP 3 containment requirements. A graduated biosecurity approach is integrated into the building fabric, air systems, security and operational protocols as staff move from lower to higher risk areas. The designs embed; very low leakage design with robust containment finishes, provision for Formaldehyde and VHP fumigation, SR3 rating, fully ACDP compliant, integrated PPE change and decontamination, CL3 barrier autoclaves, Robust pressure cascades, pass through and decontamination hatches, robust HEPA solutions, zero serviceable components within or above the CL3 Area, MEP redundancy. A thorough DQ/IQ/OQ process was worked through at all stages to ensure the turnkey contractor achieved first time commissioning and validation.

This required engagement in a highly collaborative and professional manner with the End users, strategic stakeholders, Contractor/Consultants in a structured and methodical way.

Added Value
An Outstanding Building: Pears is a stunning building with its light-filled interior and dramatic atrium where the acoustic timber panelling soars upwards and bespoke timber meeting room “pods” hover in the void. These, and other spaces in the building, are designed to maximise the opportunities for interaction, between users of the building, between researchers and their clinical colleagues in the neighbouring Royal Free Hospital and with the surrounding community. Rigourous detailing and careful selection of finishes was paramount throughout the design and construction process.

Wellbeing: Carefully considered terraces surround the building enhancing the public realm, improving connectivity with the adjacent hospital and providing much needed green space to support the well-being of users, as well as the wider Hampstead community.3

Testament to the Willmott Dixon Team, of which we were a part of, industry leading processes were set in place to embed safe working practices to allow construction of this vital project to continue during the Covid 19 pandemic.

Construction techniques were adopted, notably in accordance with a detailed Basement Impact Assessment, that controlled the risk of damage to the neighbouring buildings including the adjacent listed church and adjoining below ground LINAC, and its tanking. The magnetic and vibration impact of large vehicular movements on the MRI machines had to be risk assessed and mitigated through careful management and shielding determined.

Regular look ahead meetings with the users and neighbours allowed periods of disruptive construction activities to be co-ordinated and scheduled for minimum impact. Construction traffic was carefully derisked through the use of deliveries scheduled for quiet periods of the day, road barriers onto the site and banksmen to direct traffic safely on site.

Detailed below-ground surveys were carried out to validate and update all previously identified risks and ensure appropriate responses for mitigating them, and safely managing construction required to be carried out in close proximity to the hazards. Early service diversions cleared the site.
All works interfacing with existing infrastructure on site during the construction phase had to be carried out in strict adherence with the Trust’s detailed set of rules including various permits to work


200,000 sqm


London, UK

bottom of page