Aerial view of the new children's hospital on the St. James's Hospital Campus with the surrounding suburbs.; Aerial view of the new children's hospital on the St. James's Hospital Campus with the surrounding suburbs.;

New children's hospital, Dublin

Engineering the largest healthcare project in Ireland

The most significant capital investment in healthcare in Ireland to date, the new children’s hospital (nch) will be a world-class paediatric health facility. Combining the services currently provided at three children’s hospitals into a modern, custom-designed, digitally-enabled hospital, nch will deliver the best care and treatments for Ireland’s sickest children and young people.

The nch project comprises the main hospital on the shared campus at St. James’s Hospital in South Central Dublin and two paediatric outpatient and urgent care centres CHI at Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown and CHI at Tallaght. As well as playing a central role in the provision of acute paediatric healthcare services, the nch will be the primary centre for paediatric education, training and research in Ireland.

Arup’s mechanical and electrical engineers, alongside our transport advisors and digital specialists, are working with the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board and Children’s Health Ireland to create a child-centred facility that will enable innovation and excellence in paediatric healthcare, as well as creating an environment that is supportive of children, young people, their families and the hospital’s staff.

This 160,000mfacility will feature over 6,000 rooms spread across seven storeys above basement, 380 individual in-patient rooms, each with an en-suite and bed for parent to sleep near their child, 60 critical care beds, 93 day beds and 22 operating theatres. It will also feature four acres of outdoor space with 14 gardens and courtyards, a helipad and 1,000 underground parking spaces.

During 2021, we worked closely with Jones Engineering and the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) to produce a virtual technical tour of the nch. The video provided an innovative way to give young engineers insights into the design and construction of the hospital while site walk-throughs were not possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Project Summary


160,000 hospital

380individual in-patient rooms

60critical care beds

It is a privilege to be part of the team delivering this hospital for the children of Ireland. As well as ensuring that the building services support the delivery of clinical excellence, our multidisciplinary team are optimising the design to enable the hospital to be built and run sustainably. ” Jack Quinn Jack Quinn Associate Director

Energy-efficient hospital design

Setting high energy efficiency targets, the hospital has secured a BREEAM Excellent design stage certification – a sustainability rating which assesses the environmental performance of the building’s design.

The nch is also designed to meet the national Building Energy Rating A3 standard, requiring a 50% improvement in primary energy consumption above benchmark. We used our thermal modelling expertise to advise on the design of the building envelope, key to improving energy efficiency.

Our mechanical engineers also specified high-efficiency heating, cooling and ventilation equipment, incorporating heat recovery where possible. Natural ventilation is used in non-critical areas, maximising the health benefits of breathing fresh air, while also reducing energy consumption.

Designing a building of this magnitude required careful consideration and a focus on resource efficiency. Arup worked closely with contractors to minimise the materials required, with offsite prefabrication helping to reduce waste while enhancing quality control.

Digitally-enabled healthcare

Being the first digital public hospital in Ireland required a significant investment in ICT data infrastructure. With healthcare innovation evolving at a rapid rate, future-proofing the hospital is key to facilitating optimal delivery of current and developing clinical best practice.

Arup’s digital specialists undertook workshops with clinical, corporate, patient, IT and facilities management teams to understand their needs and define the building and operations systems’ relationships within a digital architecture. The supporting infrastructure is designed to enable the delivery of healthcare into the future with an Electronic Health Records (EHR) system, supported by a clinical command centre.

Drone footage showing construction of the nch in October 2021. The nch will be the size of Dundrum Town Shopping Centre with an internal street the length of Grafton Street.
To view this video, you must enable cookies.

Designing in a live hospital environment

Our engineers ensured that the current hospital could function as normal throughout design and construction of the new facility. Ahead of construction, an underground utilities tunnel was diverted to clear the site for the new building. Our mechanical and electrical engineers worked closely with the design team, contractors and St. James’s Hospital Technical Services Department to divert these live critical systems, completing the work safely with no disruptions.

Safeguarding accessibility to the existing hospital was essential in achieving planning permission for the new development. Our transport advisors prepared a transportation strategy and mobility management plan promoting access to the St. James’s Hospital campus by sustainable and active travel modes to meet the mobility needs of patients, their families and staff.

Our transport advisors and digital specialists also recommended the use of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) for the first time in an Irish hospital to manage the movement of goods and waste. Moving trolleys and cages around hospitals causes significant wear and tear, so the introduction of automated solutions will reduce impacts on the building, while improving service and efficiency.

Photomontage of the atrium of Ireland's new children's hospital, showing people in the reception area and on the upper floors in the background. Photomontage of the atrium of Ireland's new children's hospital, showing people in the reception area and on the upper floors in the background.

Child-friendly spaces: custom designs prioritise patient comfort

To create a low stress home-from-home feeling for children and their families, the design solutions seek to promote healing and alter the children’s perceptions of what a hospital should be like. Gardens and play areas are vital to support patients during their time in hospital.

Our lighting designers incorporated LED lighting throughout the hospital to improve the building’s energy efficiency. Natural light is maximised in patient bedrooms, which has proven therapeutic benefits. Specialised lighting fixtures will be installed in play areas to create an immersive escape for patients and families, giving them a much-needed distraction from the surrounding medical environment.