Firm plays key role in creating Nightingale hospital

Manchester Central

A Manchester firm has played a key role in the creation of Manchester’s Nightingale hospital.


The temporary hospital at Manchester will be large enough to deal with 633 patients.


Architects BDP has  played a key role in the unprecedented challenge of helping convert large event venues into emergency hospitals.


Working under main contractor Vinci, the BDP Manchester Studio has designed the conversion of a famous Manchester landmark into a temporary hospital for COVID-19 patients.

The former railway station opened in 1880 as the terminus for trains to London and closed in 1969.  It opened as an events venue in 1982.

Last year the centre played host to the Conservative Party conference.

The main hall has been divided into 18 wards, which are located underneath a 64m wrought-iron single-span arched roof, one of the widest unsupported iron arches in the world.


BDP collaborated with clinicians, consultants, contractors, Manchester Central and the British Army to meet a two-week deadline for completion, ready for admitting patients in the week of Monday April 13th.


A modular panel cladding system was used to form bed-heads and service corridors. The existing electrical system was expanded and a large-scale new gas system for providing patients with oxygen has been installed.

BDP Architect Principal Ged Couser says: “We worked closely with clinicians to ensure that every bed can be fitted with all the equipment required to treat Covid-19 patients. Delivering emergency hospital facilities in conference and exhibition centres is unprecedented, so we have been drawing on our previous experience of designing large-scale healthcare facilities in hospitals like Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool.

“The biggest challenge on the project has been responding to an evolving brief while delivering the services at the same time, and all within two weeks, from the very start to the project handover.  The scale of the task has been absolutely unprecedented, and it has taken an incredible collaborative team effort between the client, the design team, the contractor and the army.”

BDP’s also provided design and engineering services for the conversion of the ExCeL Centre, East London, the nation’s first NHS Nightingale temporary hospital in response to the crisis, providing invaluable experience for other locations.

BDP has published the NHS Nightingale instruction manual which clearly displays its fit-out strategies and processes used at ExCel.


NHS Nightingale is the first of several major crisis centres planned around the UK, designed to deal with an expected surge of patients suffering from coronavirus.