Eye-catching hospital 'Corridor in the Sky' is completed

Published: 14-May-2021

130m-long link bridge connects new rooftop helipad to emergency departments at Manchester hospitals

Following the official opening, earlier this week, of a new rooftop helipad by Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust – the first in the North West – an eye-catching link bridge has been completed which will help to transfer critically-ill patients to the city’s acute hospitals.

Designed by Sheppard Robson; the ‘Hospital Corridor in the Sky’ is suspended 18m above street level and will boost accident and emergency treatment by enabling critically-ill or injured patients to be transported by helicopter directly to emergency departments at Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI) and the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital (RMCH), which are next to the link bridge.

Developed in partnership with Bruntwood, the 130m-long link bridge runs from the helipad located on the roof of the Grafton Street car park into Manchester Royal Infirmary.

Prior to the link bridge, patients were flown to a secondary landing site in Platt Fields Park and then transferred by road ambulance to the hospital, adding critical time when every second is vital.

Not only will this fundamental new connection save time, but it will save the patient from the additional trauma of a prolonged and uncomfortable journey.

Annually, it is estimated that the new helicopter landing site will allow over 300 patients to be airlifted directly to the hospital campus.

The design’s longest span reaches 40m in length and is clad in stainless steel panels.

The choice of material, and varied architectural form, will allow the bridge to integrate into the skyline and become animated as light conditions change during the day.

The final design is a result of 13 routes that were tested during the feasibility stage of the project, with the design team negotiating a very-challenging site that included:

  • Working around the Grade II-listed Pankhurst Centre, which ultimately shaped the design of the bridge
  • Spanning a busy road at the heart of the hospital campus
  • Constructing the link bridge close to a high dependency ward
  • Constructing on the roof of the HDU, which remained open throughout the construction
  • Working on site continuously during the COVID-19 pandemic

Alex Solk, partner at Sheppard Robson, said: “It’s wonderful to see such an important project for Manchester and the wider region complete.

“We and the trust wanted the design to signify the importance of this life-saving addition to the trust’s Oxford Road Campus, hence its striking geometric form.

“The choice of iridescent, shimmering cladding only serves to heighten this.”

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