CircleBath by Foster + Partners


Architects Foster + Partners have completed a hospital in Bath, UK, clad in aluminium shingles.

Called CircleBath, the design is meant to be more akin to a luxury hotel than a hospital.

The three-storey building is arranged around a central atrium with operating theatres and recovery rooms overlooking a private garden.

Planted balconies line the upper storey, which houses patient bedrooms.

Here's some text from Foster + Partners:


CircleBath, opening of the first hospital designed by Foster + Partners

CircleBath is Foster + Partners’ first hospital and the first in a programme of new independent hospitals which offer a radical departure from orthodox approaches to hospital planning. After a period of commissioning, CircleBath is expected to open to patients in February.

The compact design encourages a sense of community and well-being with facilities more comparable to a luxury hotel rather than a traditional hospital.

The three-storey hospital is set into the hills on the edge of protected green belt nine kilometres south east of Bath. It is planned around a central light filled atrium, promoting a sense of orientation and intimacy that is commonly lacking in larger hospitals.

Public entry is from the road on the north directly into the atrium on the ground level floor. The northern façade comprises dark panelling at the lower levels, while on the south, extensive glazing opens out to views over the surrounding rolling countryside.

dzn_CircleBath by Foster + P

Appearing to float above this recessive skirting, the rectangular upper volume and roof, enclosing all twenty-eight bedrooms, is clad in a reflective lattice of aluminium shingles.

The double-height atrium forms the focus for patients, staff and visitors, with private consultation rooms leading from it at ground level and in-patient bedrooms arranged around it above.

The main reception point, café and nurses’ station occupy the atrium where daylight, drawn through the circular sky lights, is softened by a translucent fabric ribbon tracing the shapes. The colour palette is a warm and friendly mix of ochre and rust, with natural wood acoustic panels above, interspersed with glass panels providing a visual connection to the atrium from the bedroom floor.

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Throughout the building, there is an emphasis on natural light and views: operating theatres and recovery spaces on the lower level are fully glazed to the south, looking out on to a private garden. The bedrooms on the upper floor look out onto balconies, planted with herbs and shrubs, lining the building’s perimeter and oriented to maximise views across the countryside. Sympathetic landscaping emphasises the therapeutic natural environment to create the opposite of an institutional atmosphere.

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Divisions between departments are minimal, easing the stress involved in consultation, treatment and recovery for patients and reducing walking distances for staff.

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Spencer de Grey, Head of Design at Foster + Partners, commented: “There is a wealth of evidence to suggest that a well-designed hospital environment can reduce recovery times and contribute to better outcomes for patients, while providing a more attractive workplace for medical staff. This is Foster + Partners’ first hospital building and its design is democratic, putting the patient at the heart of the system in a space that does not feel institutionalised and instead takes advantage of the rural setting, the light and the views.”

dzn_CircleBath by Foster + Partners 1

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Bath, England 2006 - 2009

Client: Circle Health Properties Management Ltd
Programme: 2006 - 2009
Site area: 10,103m2
Building area: 6,400 m2
Total height: 13.2m
No. car parking spaces: 155 incl. 2 disabled
No. outpatient consultation rooms: 9
No. inpatient bedrooms: 26 single, 2 twin/family
No. operating theatres: 4
Imaging Equipment including: MRI, CT-Scan, X-ray, Ultrasound
Construction Cost: £21million
Structure: Concrete, flat slabs
Materials: Brick – lower ground floor
Glass/rainscreen panel system - ground floor
Mill finish Aluminium

Spencer de Grey Paul Kalkhoven
Darron Haylock Hans-Christian Wilhelm Ingrid Sölken Pritesh Patel

Client: Circle / Health Properties Management Ltd
Project Manager: Buro Four
Structural Engineers: WSP Cantor Seinuk
Services Engineers: Arup
Landscape Architect: Plincke Landscape
Cost Consultant: Davis Langdon LLP
Medical Equipment Planner: MJMedical
Planning Consultant: CSJ Planning
Traffic Consultant: IMA Transport Planning
Main Contractor: Taylor Woodrow Construction (Part of VINCI)

Posted on Saturday January 16th 2010 at 8:32 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • tsktsk

    I want to go there to die.

  • Obosit

    It would be interested to think about the opposite of Durand: all
    typologies using a common repertoire of forms.

  • Rahk

    Fabulous concept! When will all hospitals follow suit?!

  • I think it’s really beautiful and I love the lighting! I’m sure it’s a real pleasure to experience, which is so unusual for hospitals. Hopefully the comfortable surroundings will put patients at ease.

  • KaptnK

    NHS or Private?

    Looks too nice for NHS

    Stunning hospital though. It’d be great if that much time, care and attention were applied to all hospitals

  • Beautiful detailing. Definitely does not look like a hospital.

    It appears that Foster + Partners is going the way of all the other firms that are slowly loosing their design leaders. Safe and corporate.

  • ujo

    maybe not one of his most criative works, but you’ll have to admit: the Lord is one classy fellow.

  • ex-foster

    Looks very “Cheapo”!

  • Finally the coin dropped!!!!!
    Shockingly well done and finally someone understand that sick people don’t want to be in a greasy stainless steel and cold looking building but something that warm and closer to a home feel.
    Also the plans are incredibly smart. Every patient has his own individual room so they won’t catch other patient’s diseases and can go home faster and healthier.
    The doctors and/or nurses will have to visit the room and look after the patient and not just pass by through a patient!!!
    Another proof that we can improve our way of life and society through a simple and smart planning / design.
    I think all other architect dealing with healthcare buildings should look at this one and take some notes!!!

  • MrCoolTeapot

    Very elegant. Nice use of metal cladding. Not overwhelming.

  • …and I will be watching with great interest when this hospital publishes its annual report of hospital acquired infections in a year time!!!

  • steve

    ujo… sounds like you are sucking up for a job! good luck.

  • xtiaan

    this whole shiny cladding fashion is rather nice
    though what happens to aluminium in a few years, ie taitanium stays shiny, copper gets verdigris, and theres all that untreated steel being used at the mo’ which rusts to stunning effects, so would this just get? a white oxide layer, go dull or what?
    whatever happens its a wonderful design

  • kaptnk


    this is unfortunately a Private hospital leaving it out of reach for the majority of the country.

    What would be a far far better piece of design in my opinion is to bring something like this (which is excellent) to a larger audience.

    There doesn’t to me seem much skill in producing something outstandning like this with a high budget. I’d be much more impressed if something equally outstanding was designed and built to service hundreds or thousands of patients in central london with a lower budget.

    I seem to be the only one who’s noticed it only has 26 rooms. Which is unfeasible and unpractical for a large scale hospital.

  • ste

    nice interior and a boring exterior… dont like the cladding on this box and dont like how the claddings go around the corner…

  • lynnfw

    Its compact, but seems to have that all important sense of purpose in its design, with the patients and professionals needs considered and an interior which looks calm, uncomplicated and makes the most of the views and environment in which its placed.

  • @kaptnk

    I agree with you completely!!! It should be to the reach of all and not only for a certain crowd of people.
    However, the way he made the layout is that every patient has his own room and that mean he will be quick in and out and will not catch other people diseases. Keeping a patient over night is very costly and if you will multiply it by thousands on a daily basis, I promise you that the cost of the actual building itself will be almost irrelevant and in the long run – very feasible!

  • pp

    The hospital is not totaly private. It will accept NHS patients too. The exterior is not boring. Its calm and tranquil reflecting it’s rural setting whilst also complying with the difficult planning conditions of a world heritage site.

  • karin

    looks like a project of Le Corbusier 2010…

  • SK

    lovely design overall, especially the foyer. interesting to see that wooden flooring has been put down, what with all the healthcare guidelines about infection control.

  • Amazing concent and beautiful building. I think I would quite like to smash my fibula or rupture my spleen and end up there !!!!