Text description provided by the architects
This new-build veterinary hospital, conference and administration building for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home (BDCH) forms a key part of a major re-development of the site, replacing an outdated four storey facility adjacent to Battersea Power Station. The 8-storey, 4,000m2 development is now the largest building on the constrained site, tightly boarded between mainline railways. Clad in vibrant Battersea blue glazed terracotta tiles, this building by Jonathan Clark Architects provides the world-famous institution with a multi-purpose facility that houses staff and medical teams as well as its hospital.
What were the key challenges?
Construction was particularly complex as a result of a very constrained site with restricted access, surrounded by railway tracks into Victoria (the nearest track is only 3.6 metres away) and existing BDCH buildings. In addition, extensive dialogue with Network Rail addressed amongst other things, the potential for glare from the façade to affect train drivers, resulting in extensive lab testing of various tiles in different conditions in the UK and Germany to address these concerns. Over 130 other approvals from Network Rail were also required.
What was the brief?
To create a new veterinary hospital with the best possible clinical facilities for the new state of the art veterinary clinic. Designed to minimise the potential spread of infectious disease, the floor plan is arranged as a logical sequence of spaces that separate public areas from the clinic, providing the ability to maintain optimum levels of hygiene in crucial recovery areas. Beyond reception and public consultation areas, a large preparation hub sits at the heart of the medical area with a number of specialised theatres and services forming its perimeter. Internal finishes have been meticulously designed to reduce the collation of dirt within clinical areas; white gloss walls and seamless junctions between wall finishes and floors require minimal effort to keep clean.
Upper levels house training facilities and newly consolidated office departments, improving the efficiency of the organisation and allowing the necessary expansion of a number of departments within the charity. The office spaces are predominately open plan with desks positioned within close proximity to full height windows, providing an abundance of natural light and impressive views over Battersea and beyond. Private meeting booths and kitchenettes are located centrally within the plan, creating a small hub of activity that nurtures a sense of community within the workplace.
What were the solutions?
Externally, the development is defined by vibrant and colourful glazed terracotta cladding that give the building a shimmering quality. Different shades of blue terracotta tiles referencing the charity’s corporate colours rise in a pixelated fashion from dark to light, helping to dissipate the building’s façade into the sky.
Grey masonry bands encircle the building on the lower levels, articulating the clinic which occupies the majority of the ground and first floor and forming a robust plinth that visually references adjacent rail arches and nearby buildings. To the south, the plinth splays out to align with the rail arches, creating an inviting entrance and a double height reception area with a staggered outdoor terraced area above.