GOSH roof garden case study

Great Ormond Street Hospital roof garden, London

Project description

A roof garden for staff designed in a contemporary style and located on the roof of Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), in the centre of London.

Project summary

GOSH is located in the heart of central London and over the years, the hospital site has been continually re-developed, almost to its maximum extent. Demand for more car parking and extensions to existing wards have inevitably been putting further pressure on the small amount of external space which remains.

Situated on the 7th floor of the Octav Botnar Wing of the GOSH, the roof garden represents a creative approach to this lack of external space and makes use of an area which had previously been inaccessible. Completed in March 2007 it is intended purely as a facility for staff, (being impractical for patients to access) and is open every day from 7am to 10pm, 365 days a year.

The garden has areas for relaxing, socialising and eating and remembers the two GOSH staff; Nazy Mozakka and Mala Trivedi, who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks in London in July 2005. In consultation with family, friends and staff, words that best represented the personalities of Nazy and Mala were chosen. These words appear throughout the garden on planters, glazing and paving as well as appearing on a large feature wall in the garden.

The garden cost £350,000 to build; this was raised over a 4 year period by the Friends of the Children of Great Ormond Street. Entered into the Building Better Healthcare Awards, it won the Best External Space award in 2008.

Design features include:

  • Glazed panelling around the edge of the garden provides shelter from the wind and still allows panoramic views of the London skyline and wonderful views over the City;
  • Bold, simple planting, much of it deciduous to reflect the passing seasons;
  • Variety of flexible seating places – larger communal areas and smaller secluded ones too;
  • The garden is automatically lit from dusk, giving the space a magical quality and extending its use well into the evening.

Key achievement

Few healthcare facilities have outdoor areas assigned solely for staff use. The hospital has taken a creative approach here to the use of limited outdoor space on this very constrained urban site. By accepting the impossibility of patient usage (because of the location of the space) this problem has been turned into an advantage: staff have a secluded space of their own where they can ‘switch off’, away from their patients, in a relaxing, fun environment.

What are the health benefits?

Hospitals are places of urgency, activity, and fluctuating emotions. For staff who are constantly exposed to this stressful environment, the garden provides a space where staff can escape the pressures of the hospital, offering scope for contemplation, relaxation and privacy. Studies have shown that improvements in staff working conditions like these reduce the stress suffered by staff, with resulting benefits for their overall wellbeing. Staff who are less stressed will cope more effectively with the demands of the job and will interact better with patients. They are also less likely to take sick leave or to leave for employment elsewhere.

A designer’s perspective

Andy Budgen of Spacelab said ‘“The design of the scheme creates a calm contemporary pavilion and garden which is a green antidote to the hospital environment and improves the working experience for staff.”

Lessons learnt

  • Low maintenance: automatic watering and simple design minimise maintenance input;
  • Loading and structural issues: concealed under the finishes is an expansive network of steel beams which transfer the weight of the garden to the structure of the building;
  • Coping with wind: 6.5m tall Hornbeam trees are anchored to the structure of the building through the planters (to prevent movement by the wind).


GOSH Press Office: 020 7239 3125. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Website: http://spacelab.co.uk/about-us/award-winning/friends-garden-gosh