Kentish Town Health Centre

London. 2008

  • Project Details
  • Completion: 2008
  • Cost: £10.1 Million
  • Clients: Camden Primary Care Trust and James Wigg Practice

As a complex interplay of adaptable, interlocking internal and external spaces, Kentish Town Health Centre takes inspiration from the game Jenga. A single-storey dark brick plinth holds two-storeys of crisp-white rendered overlapping volumes. A wide, internalised street runs the full length of the building, widening at its mid-point to create a triple-height, triple-aspect public room that focuses out onto a garden. Glazed circulation cores, bridges, voids and terraces intersect with the axial route of the internal street to stitch all levels together. Housing a large GP practice, a wide range of community health services, office space, staff facilities, a library and meeting rooms, the building (and the process in which it was championed, procured, designed and delivered) has set new standards for the NHS. The project, initially won in a RIBA competition, was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize in 2009.


British Construction Industry Award: Public Building £3-£50m 2010 Building Magazine: Public Building Project of the Year 2010 Civic Trust Award 2010 Brick Awards: Best Use of Brick and Clay Products 2009 Building Better Healthcare Award for Best Primary Care Design 2009 Building Better Healthcare Award for Design Champion of the Year 2009 LIFT Award for Best Design for a Healthcare Project 2009 RIBA Award for Architecture 2009 RIBA Client of the Year 2009 RIBA Stirling Prize: Shortlist 2009

Existing Premises         


RIBA Competition   

NHS estates funded an RIBA design competition to ‘produce a landmark design for an Integrated Care Centre in a deprived and complex inner city area’. From 76 entries, 12 practices were shortlisted to be interviewed by a panel headed by the project champion, Dr Roy Macgregor. Four schemes were selected to be developed further and displayed in a public exhibition. This allowed extensive user and stakeholder feedback – allowing innovative ideas on care delivery to be incorporated.

AHMM were selected for their innovative approach with a scheme based upon the idea of an internal ‘street’ and centralised reception and administrative hub. The analogy of the game Jenga was used to describe the approach to resolving the complexities of the professional inter-relations within the building. Volumes were moved and rearranged until the desired spatial relationships were achieved with voids left to provide light, air and outdoor spaces in the building.



The building houses a large GP practice, paediatric, dental services, children’s services, breast screening and diagnostic imaging, plus supporting office space, staff facilities, library and meeting rooms. Inspired by the game Jenga, the very complex inter-relationships of these uses were rigorously adjusted to create a very flexible internal space where staff and users feel connected and part of a whole.


The Street  

Internally, the building has been designed around the concept of a street – a generous public/private space that welcomes users and leads them to the reception at the heart of the building from where all services are accessed. 


External Spaces

With the landscaping, as many existing trees as possible were retained including a number of London Planes, an Ash, a Lime and a Damson. The new landscape elements were designed to relate to the residential scale of gardens and pockets of green in surrounding streets. A series of small gardens and terraces carved into the built form adjacent to both staff and public spaces, are already proving a huge asset to allow distressed patients a ‘breather’ while they await urgent psychiatric assessment.

At ground level a more formal, public garden has been designed which connects directly to the main waiting room where the café will be located. There is also a large rooftop terrace accessed from the staff room which is large enough for social occasions in the summer.


External Perspectives


Collaboration with Studio Myerscough

Exploded View of Lightbox

The double and triple-height space running through the building is enlivened by bridges, views, colourful graphics and a bold signage system by Studio Myerscough that creates a stimulating internal streetscape whilst providing ease of use for the diverse needs of the many users. Arts Council funding has been secured to deliver a programme of art throughout the building. 

Spatial Analysis 


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