The UCH Macmillan Cancer Centre, designed to provide a therapeutic patient focused environment and draw on best practice healthcare models around the world. Photo: Thomas Graham; The UCH Macmillan Cancer Centre, designed to provide a therapeutic patient focused environment and draw on best practice healthcare models around the world. Photo: Thomas Graham;

UCH Macmillan Cancer Centre, London

Designing a modern cancer centre that is truly patient focused

University College London Hospital (UCLH) Macmillan Cancer Centre is a revolution in cancer care. As treatments for cancer advance and patients require fewer and shorter stays in hospital, our focus was the needs of patients and their carers. The centre uses the best diagnostic and treatment techniques and our goal was to design a building that was welcoming and complementary to the new style of treatment the hospital provides.

Arup provided project management and structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing (SMEP) engineering design services. We were fully integrated into the project acting as a member of the UCLH project board and managing a small team of their personnel, as well as budgets, risk, issues, change management, and progress reporting.

The ultimate success of the project was measured by the patients and staff who were consulted early on during the design development, whilst also regularly being invited to visit the site during construction. We worked alongside the project team and contractor to ensure the importance of input from the end users was embedded throughout the project. 

The final beautiful and bright building opened in 2012 and is a comfortable place to visit, while offering a sanctuary to patients.

Project Summary


£63million contract

14,711 m2internal floor area

BREEAM ‘Excellent’rating

This world-class clinical facility has been delivered on time and on budget, to a very high specification. Completing a building of this size and complexity is a significant achievement. ” Sir Robert Naylor Chief Executive, University London Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Wellbeing comes first

Visitors experience a bright, spacious feel as the double-height floors allow natural light to flood the building. We employed an innovative self-cleaning glazing system that not only meets NHS environmental targets, but also cuts carbon emissions by a third. 

Glass is a theme throughout the building, in particular on the rooftop ‘healing garden’ which offers an open-air sanctuary for patients.

The building’s pre-fabricated façade is composed of a durable and low-maintenance bronze-alloy with a concrete frame. The façade not only looks architecturally beautiful but it recovers heat, helping to keep conditions stable throughout the year.


A therapeutic environment for patients and their families

Our team of acousticians ensured there is total privacy from room to room, while our lighting specialists looked at the best solutions to reduce glare while providing lighting levels required by staff. Our fire strategy has reduced the number of fire compartments and halved the number of stairs, which has allowed for modern, open-plan treatment bays and kept the flow of the building. The result is a modern approach to cancer care that puts patients at the heart of the design.

Through my exposure of working with Arup on a number of highly complex projects, I have found them to be ‘hands-on’, committed at all levels, client-focused; providing a high degree of confidence that they will not let me down. ” Kieran McDaid Director of Capital Investment, University London Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

The centre provides lots of open spaces and the healing garden rooftop, that everyone is welcome to use. Credit: Anthony Weller/Archimage The centre provides lots of open spaces and the healing garden rooftop, that everyone is welcome to use. Credit: Anthony Weller/Archimage