Sheppard Robson’s ‘Hospital Corridor in the Sky’ bridge in Manchester completes

11th May 2021

The link bridge will have a major role in connecting Manchester City Centre’s hospitals with the wider region.

Suspended 18 metres above street-level lies the new Sheppard Robson-designed, 130m-long link bridge that will boost accident and emergency treatment by enabling critically ill or injured patients to be transported by helicopter directly to the city-centre hospitals from around the region. This includes transport to the Emergency Departments at Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI) and Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital (RMCH) which are next to the link bridge.

Developed in partnership with Bruntwood for the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), the link bridge runs from the helipad located on the roof of the Sheppard Robson-designed Grafton Street carpark into Manchester Royal Infirmary.

Prior to the link bridge, critically ill or injured adults, children and babies were flown to a secondary landing site in Platt Fields Park. Patients were then transferred by road ambulance to the hospital, adding critical time to a situation where every second is vital. Not only will this fundamental new connection save time, it will save the patient from any additional trauma of a prolonged and uncomfortable journey. Annually, it is estimated that the new helicopter landing site will allow over 300 patients to be airlifted directly to the hospital campus.

The design’s longest span reaches 40m in length and is clad in stainless steel panels. The choice of material and varied architectural form will allow the bridge to integrate into the skyline and become animated as light conditions change.

The final design is a result of 13 routes that were tested during the feasibility stage of the project, with the design team negotiating a very challenging site that included:

  • Working around the Grade II listed Pankhurst Centre, which ultimately shaped the design of the bridge
  • Spanning a busy road at the heart of the hospital campus
  • Constructing the link bridge close to a high dependency ward
  • Constructing on the roof of the HDU, which remained open throughout the construction
  • Working on site continuously during the Covid-19 pandemic

Alex Solk, Partner at Sheppard Robson, said: “It’s wonderful to see such an important project for Manchester and the wider region complete. 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.”

Sheppard Robson designed the Grafton Street Carpark building which was completed in 2016.