Guys Cancer Centre. Image: Laing O'Rourke; Guys Cancer Centre. Image: Laing O'Rourke;

Guy's Cancer Centre, London

Transforming patient experiences: delivering Europe’s first above ground radiotherapy unit

Guy’s Cancer Centre is a new world-class cancer treatment facility, designed around patient needs and promoting medical advances by co-locating research and treatment. The new facility brings the Guy's and St Thomas’ cancer treatment into a single building designed around the quality of the patient environment and collaboration between healthcare and research professionals.

Cancer treatment is rarely straightforward. At Guy’s and St Thomas' Hospital, cancer patients used to visit up to eight separate buildings across two sites accessing different healthcare professionals. The hospital Trust’s ambition was to improve the experience for patients and their families. The new state-of-the-art Guy’s Cancer Centre has been creatively designed around the needs of patients.

The centre is split into four separate ‘villages’; Welcome, Radiotherapy, Outpatients and Chemotherapy, each with a distinct identity. The innovative patient-centred layout means people typically visit only one treatment village each time they enter the building. The new hospital aims to reduce stress, waiting times and late finishes. 

Arup’s multi-disciplinary engineering design provides the critical technical functions required in a modern healthcare building in a discrete and unobtrusive fashion.

Project Summary

14 storeys


1ˢᵗin Europe to position radiotherapy above ground level

The building was designed for construction from the outset using Laing O’Rourke’s Design for Manufacture & Assembly (DfMA) off-site fabrication systems. Working closely with the Contractor’s team, we incorporated advances in the systems and collaborated to develop new variants of their standard suite of construction solutions.

© Laing O'Rourke

Creating a better experience for patients

As a world-class cancer treatment facility, the building includes six linear accelerators (LINACs) for radiotherapy, as well as CT, MRI & PET-MRI imaging equipment. Heavy LINAC machines are typically sited in basements as a means of shielding staff and other patients from radiation. At the request of patients, Guy’s Cancer Centre is the first in Europe to accommodate LINACs above ground, specifically to allow patients to wait and prepare for radiotherapy treatments in naturally lit spaces greatly improving their experience.

Our engineers ensured the suspended floorplates met the stringent vibration criteria for sensitive imaging equipment through the use of post-tensioned lattice slabs to reduce vibration response. To shield the LINACs without disrupting the consistent ceiling heights, the structural team incorporated demountable shielding directly above and below the Radiotherapy level. The overall LINAC construction created reduced-height spaces in the rooms above and below which are used for services plant.

© Laing O'Rourke

Improving energy efficiency

The building has highly clinical treatment spaces with intensive energy demands. These spaces have been clustered against the external plant tower and external ductwork to allow for plant to be immediately adjacent to these demanding spaces. This has radically reduced the energy consumption of the air distribution systems. In the non-clinical parts of the building passive design has been extensively utilised thorough natural ventilation. Consulting spaces have storey-height openable façade panels to maximise buoyancy driven natural ventilation which can be controlled by the users. The village reception atria have automated louvre openings and exposed thermal mass.

The external plant tower is an example of integrated construction and design thinking: the location of the plant tower is so constrained that the Air Handling Units (AHU) could not be installed once the tower has been built. A modular steel solution was developed in which the AHU were installed as the frame was erected (units can be broken down into pieces for maintenance and replacement).

Guy's Cancer Centre Guy's Cancer Centre
The Building has received a number of accolades, including a RIBA London Award, the New London Awards ‘Ashden Prize for Sustainability’, and Building Better Healthcare ‘Patient Experience’ and ‘Clinician’s Choice’ Awards.

Central London sites often bring their own challenges: to add to the design complexity the building had to bridge over a Roman Boat buried within the silts of the old Guy’s Creek. The archaeology team required that the boat, which is listed as a protected Schedule Ancient Monument, could be excavated in the future and that monitoring was introduced to allow the preservation conditions around the boat to be tracked.

The future of healthcare

Whilst advancement in cancer care continues, our technical engineering design skills underpin modern healthcare, in which increasingly demanding technically design needs to be delivered in a more patient-focused, less-institutional environment.