Softroom wins pitch to design GP surgery of the future

25 October, 2018

Oliver Salway of Softroom has won the Architect Pitch to design to the GP surgery of the future.

Salway, who together with Christopher Bagot, set up the practice 22 years ago, will now be invited to discuss its winning concept with NHS Property Services.

NHS Property Services has a portfolio of 3,500 buildings, including health centres, GP surgeries and hospitals making it one of the biggest property companies in the UK.

The NHS brief asked architects to propose a design concept that could be applied to a number of surgeries in different settings. The competition coincides with the launch of the NHS Property Services’ thought leadership campaign exploring the impact of technology on the NHS estate.

Salway’s pitch, at MIPIM UK, was centred on understanding a typical ‘customer journey’ and how that could be improved for patients.

The Architect Pitch took place at MIPIM UK

During the three-minute pitch, he said: “The commercial sector has taught us that even a simple rebranding can help reframe our thinking and unlock possibilities”.

“Softroom’s mission has always been to archive the maximum impact with the minimum means and it’s never about innovation for innovation’s sake.”

Examples he used included a re-brand of the typical surgery.

“Rather than waiting rooms that suggest time lost, they could become lounges or living rooms like the our Eurostar lounge in Paris that actually makes missing the train a bonus”.

Responding to Salway’s pitch, Simon Taylor, Head of Portfolio Optimisation at NHSPS said: “The message you left me with is that we can change the experience and that feels quite different as a thought process.”

Oliver Salway, Softroom and Julie Whetton, NHS Property Services

Softroom has an impressive client list including Virgin Atlantic and Eurostar and are currently working with Turkish Airlines at Istanbul Airport but says public sector clients are rewarding in a different way.

“You need both the imperative of commercial work and while public work can drag on for ever, it’s always fascinating. It’s important to straddle those two worlds, learning from commerce and giving back some of that knowledge”

Salway, who was the only architect of the seven to pitch using a video format and autocue software, said the experience has been “nerve wracking’ because “we were presenting among our peers and they know all the rhetorical tricks”.

The panel was made up of Simon Taylor, Head of Portfolio Optimisation, Julie Whetton, Head of Property Management, David Lewis, architect and a partner in NBBJ and journalist Adam Branson. They praised all seven architects for the boldness of their ideas, which included the use of data to create a better patient environment, rooms for mindfulness and yoga and partnerships with residential developers to create mixed-use buildings.

The other architects pitching were AOC Architecture, Gatti Routh Rhodes Architects, Gruff, Henley Halebrown, Pilbrow & Partners, and White Red Architects.

The next pitch will be in March 2019.