UK Construction Journal January 2015

Leading Research & Development Clean Rooms – Royal Free Hospital

Cell Therapy4The Royal Free Hospital began as a pioneering organisation and is continuing to play a leading role in the care of patients. Its mission is to provide world class expertise and local care.

Established in 1828 by William Marsden, a newly qualified surgeon shocked that he could not find treatment for a penniless young woman, Royal Free was the first hospital to provide free care and the only London hospital to stay open during the 19th century cholera epidemics.

In the 21st century, the hospital continues to lead improvements in healthcare and is proud to have some of the best clinical outcomes in the country. Its mortality rates have been consistently among the best in English trusts for many years.

With a vision to deliver world class healthcare, the hospital is continually improving its facilities for healthcare and research.

One of its latest projects has provided a new suite of clean rooms, for University College London and Royal Free hospital as cellular therapeutics laboratories.

Ranging in classification from Grade D to Grade B with Grade A isolators, the laboratories will be used for the growth of various organs for human transplant and provide gene therapy for cancer care patients. The development included the complete rebuilding of the old facilities with new state-of-the-art facilities where the Trust can increase its Research and Development productivity, creating world leading clean rooms.

The project was embarked upon as the old facilities had become out-of-date and did not provide the correct level of clean rooms necessary for current and future research.

Cell Therapy3The project itself has been led by the Mechanical & Electrical Contractor, Stuart McCurry & Partners Ltd, due to the complexity of the services needed and high degree of M&E work required.

The facilities have been completely replaced with new, larger units which utilise the infill of an external light well. All of the old laboratories were gradually removed and replaced with new units. The facility included M&E services which provide high levels of robustness on the ventilation system and power supplies. The ventilation was supported by seven different Air Handling Units, so that the clean rooms could continue to operate if a unit failed. The ventilation system was also designed to provide the facility to set back the air volumes when the clean rooms were not being used, whilst still providing the required pressure cascade hierarchy across the various room classifications. The ventilation system included high degrees of heat recovery, which in conjunction with the set back capabilities provides a very energy efficient system.

The power supplies were also provided from two separate origins with changeover so that the critical systems could be maintained during power maintenance. While specialist power seals and sealed back boxes were designed and made as a bespoke product to ensure the rooms were as close to perfectly sealed as possible.

Construction of the new units was undertaken over three phases in order to create as little disruption to the hospital and ongoing manufacturing as possible. The phasing was a very complex part of the project as the operation of both the existing and recently handed over units, could not be disrupted.

Access was also difficult as the site was located in the centre of the hospital.

The largest disruption was the connection of the sub-mains power supplies, which required controlled shut downs of three of the hospital’s main risers.

The greatest challenge for the contractors was physically fitting the large ventilation services into the available space. This was overcome by working closely with the clients at the design stage to ensure room heights and resultant air volumes were correctly selected.

Cell Therapy 5Another challenge presented to the team, was the ability to modify the clean room category in future, by down or up grading the rooms, changing the air requirements for the unit.

As a result, SMP designed a complex constant supply air system with a variable extract ventilation system that modulates to extract enough to maintain the required leakage in each space. CMR controls and dampers were used which proved to provide a very reliable pressure balance. Each room also has local reheat for individual room pressure.

Work on the £2.1M project completed in August.