Located 18 metres above street level, Sheppard Robson’s 130-metre-long link bridge connects a helipad on the roof of Grafton Street carpark (also designed by the practice) to Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI).
Developed in partnership with Bruntwood for the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), the structure allows critically ill or injured patients from around the region to be delivered quickly and directly to the hospital. Prior to this, patients were flown to a secondary landing site in Platt Fields Park and then transferred by road ambulance to the MRI, adding critical time in emergency situations. It is estimated that the new helicopter landing site will allow more than 300 patients to be airlifted to the hospital campus annually.
The final design is a result of 13 routes that were tested during the feasibility stage. It also had to overcome a number of challenging site issues, including working around the grade II listed Pankhurst Centre, spanning a busy road, and being constructed on the roof of the hospital’s high dependency unit (HDU), while the facility remained open and fully operational.
The bridge, whose longest span measures 40 metres, is clad in triangular-shaped stainless-steel panels. The choice of material and geometric composition not only complement the city skyline, but also animate the structure under changing light conditions.
“We and the Trust wanted the design to signify the importance of this life-saving addition to MFT’s Oxford Road Campus, hence its striking geometric form. The choice of iridescent, shimmering cladding only serves to heighten this,” said Sheppard Robson partner Alex Solk.