The Christie Paterson Building is a £150m medical and cancer research facility at the heart of The Christie campus in Manchester. A collaboration between medical leaders; The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, the University of Manchester and Cancer Research UK, the project brings together cancer researchers and clinicians. Housed in a range of specialist spaces, including a range of high specification laboratories, the facilities are arranged across ten upper floors and a basement.

Working on behalf of Integrated Health Projects, a joint venture between Vinci Building and Sir Robert McAlpine, Arup provided multi-disciplinary engineering design services, together with fire and façade engineering, BREEAM assessments, ICT and transport planning. The new building has also drawn on our depth of experience in science, healthcare and workplaces to create a facility of global significance in the research and treatment of cancer.

The Christie Paterson Building is the largest single-site cancer research facility in Europe and one of the leading research centres in the world.

Designing The Christie Paterson Building

Following a devastating fire in April 2017, we were brought onboard to undertake surveys of the building. These surveys enabled the client team, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, the University of Manchester and Cancer Research UK, to visualise the scale of the damage caused and to decide whether to re-occupy the building.

As part of developing the concept design, extensive stakeholder engagement took place. Together with the architect, we led knowledge-capture sessions with various groups across the client team. Due to multiple clients spearheading the process, it was integral to ensure all concerns and feedback were considered to achieve the aim of establishing one of the leading cancer research treatment hubs. Following the consultation, the findings were drawn together and structured to form the project brief.

Our team pulled together a suite of technical design notes, each on a discrete topic, both to explain an outcome from the briefing process and to enable the stakeholders to make more informed decisions on technical options. This method was adopted to ensure collaborative decision making, which proved to be invaluable in maintaining momentum during the design process.

Following this, we developed a bespoke digital tool allowing the client team to visualise the different options within the context of the existing campus. This established that a new building could be inserted into the constrained area, providing high-quality research facilities to replace the capabilities of the previous site.

Working adjacent to an operational hospital

The new development is adjacent to a hospital service road and The Christie’s existing buildings, which house research laboratories, operating theatres, a private clinic and an MRI suite. It was critical that disruption to the hospital's operational and research activities was minimised. Our careful investigation and specification of works at cut lines between demolished and retained buildings allowed these operations to continue without interruption.

Our team developed the detailed engineering design for the building, delivering construction information for the contractor, responding to site queries and reviewing site information throughout the construction process. 

To realise this design, frequent consultations were held to focus the design on a series of innovative approaches including:

  • Vibration sensitivity: Vibration-sensitive equipment and labs are located throughout the upper floors of the building. Our vibration specialists assessed the sensitivity of the different uses and different pieces of equipment, mapped this onto the proposed floor layouts and then worked with the client to value engineer the structure. By adjusting the equipment location, slab depth and column grid, and optimised solution was developed for the in-situ concrete structure which could still meet the stringent limits on vibration performance.
  • Building services for adaptability: Risers were located in accessible areas that were local to laboratories. This allows periodic maintenance to be undertaken without disruption to research. Furthermore, refitting and modification of building services to suit new lab fitouts and equipment can be undertaken without having to take multiple labs offline. Infrastructure was also sufficiently sized to allow for reasonable adaptation of the existing systems to account for future changes of use or new scientific equipment, without having to change central plant or introduce new risers into the building.
  • Flexible services approach: The laboratories were designed to accept a wide range of equipment sizes meaning that should scientific requirements change in the future; significant redesign would not be needed. For example, the power, data, and lab gas design accommodated a range of mounting methods, including high-level service booms to provide flexible equipment spaces below.
  • Sustainable laboratory services: Laboratories are notoriously energy intensive, making it challenging to ensure these large-scale facilities remain sustainable. Process ventilation systems were provided with variable air volume systems, allowing the system to be fine-tuned and only provide the ventilation required at that time. This coupled with heat recovery on the process extract system provided an efficient, sustainable and flexible solution.

Looking at the wider benefit

The project is of international significance in cancer treatment and research and forms part of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre, a globally recognised leader in the field. The treatments pioneered at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust go on to benefit the cancer treatment community, helping to improve the lives of patients and informing the global development of cancer science. 

Long standing relationships

Manchester Cancer Research Centre aspires to become one of the world's top 10 cancer research centres and to further develop a 'team science' approach in its research activities.

The new facility has allowed The Christie, the University of Manchester, and Cancer Research UK to collectively enhance their ambitions for cancer research and treatment. The state-of-the-art building provides the space they need to re-group after recent years disrupted by the fire and the Coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, the flexibility the facility provides ensures the client team is prepared to respond to evolutions within cancer research well into the future. 

Did you know?



cement replacement material used  


cubic metres of materials recycled