Royal Hospital Chelsea Infirmary London

Royal Hospital Chelsea Infirmary, London Health Building, Project, Photo, News, Design

Royal Hospital Chelsea Infirmary London Architecture

Chelsea Health Development design by Steffian Bradley Architects in London, UK

post updated 11 July 2020 ; 18 Sep 2011

Royal Hospital Chelsea

Photos © Adrian Welch, Sep 2011:

Royal Hospital Chelsea Infirmary building

Royal Hospital Chelsea Infirmary London

The Northern aspect of the Royal Hospital Chelsea building:
Royal Hospital Chelsea Infirmary London building
photo © Nick Weall

The Embankment entrance to the Royal Hospital Chelsea:
The Embankment entrance to the Royal Hospital Chelsea
photo © Nick Weall

25 Mar 2009
Steffian Bradley Architects’ Royal Hospital Chelsea Infirmary Opens

HRH The Prince of Wales officially opened the Royal Hospital Chelsea’s new Margaret Thatcher Infirmary, designed by healthcare specialists Steffian Bradley Architects, today, 25 March 2009.

Royal Hospital Chelsea Infirmary building facade
photo © Nick Panagakis

This new building brings state-of-the-art facilities to the Chelsea Pensioners. The Infirmary, a residential care and outpatient facility, will provide support for 125 of the In-Pensioners. The Infirmary has been designed to become an integral part of the historic site’s rich heritage.

Set on the north bank of the River Thames, the Royal Hospital Chelsea comprises Grade I listed buildings by Sir Christopher Wren and Sir John Soane. The challenge for Steffian Bradley Architects was to merge the site’s architectural legacy with a 21st Century care facility.

Lead architects Steffian Bradley Architects have created high-specification healthcare capabilities to produce an effective, modern healing environment, while Quinlan & Francis Terry Architects designed the façade of the building. The resulting Infirmary emphasises the sense of community and shared experience that the residents have through their history with the Army. In addition care has been taken in the new building to incorporate references to the traditional architecture of the site, such as Wren’s monumental colonnade.

The new Infirmary replaces an out-moded 1960s building, and features modern facilities for the elderly and infirm veteran soldiers. The communal areas are the focal points of day-to-day life with corridors designed as streetscapes, which take design references from Sir Christopher Wren’s ‘Long Wards’.

This familiarity of design helps maintain a smooth transition for In-Pensioners moving into the Infirmary. Each In-Pensioner has a bedroom with an en suite bathroom, which crucially allows ladies to be admitted as In Pensioners for the first time in the Hospital’s history.

HRH Prince Charles, Baroness Thatcher, Chelsea Pensioners:

Royal Hospital Chelsea London Royal Hospital Chelsea Infirmary London
pictures © Nick Panagakis

The creation of visual clues, incorporated into the architecture, helps way-finding to become intuitive for In-Pensioners. Insignia designs in the linoleum floor help guide occupants at key points in the internal streets, as do ‘memory cases’, in which personal photographs and medals can be displayed outside each room.

Derek Salter, Steffian Bradley Architects Director, stated: “It has been a delight to work with the Royal Hospital Chelsea, and to design excellent quality healthcare facilities for such an important group of people as the Chelsea Pensioners. We are proud for our Infirmary to now be part of such a historic site, and that the new Infirmary will help the Royal Hospital Chelsea continue its excellent service into the future.”

David Hellens, Development Director of the Royal Hospital Chelsea commented, “We are exceptionally proud of the new addition to the Hospital, and immensely grateful to the 8,000 donors who have made it possible to create the Margaret Thatcher Infirmary, which represents the successful phase one start to The Royal Hospital’s major refurbishment programme. The Royal Hospital Chelsea has cared for the army veterans for over 300 years, and the new Infirmary is a key part of planning care for Chelsea Pensioners for the next 300 years”

Steffian Bradley Architects won the contract against 84 architectural practices and were appointed as the concept and healthcare architects.

Design features of the RHC Margaret Thatcher Infirmary at a glance:

Sustainability and Design Innovation

– Passive stack ventilation
– Daylight monitoring
– Hydronic under-floor heating
– Thermal mass

Design that Enhances Wellness

– A planning strategy of “interior streets” to encourage mobility
– Lighting design that mimics exterior lighting levels to boost natural biorhythms
– Strategically placed public areas to increase socialization and interaction with staff
– A connection to nature with views to a courtyard, natural ventilation and daylight
– Flexible design modules that allow resident choice in their personal space
– Homelike, multipurpose common areas that foster community in a smaller group setting


– Automated Lighting Control System
– Digital Enhanced Cordless Technology (DECT) nurse call system
– Building Monitoring System

More on Steffian Bradley Architects

Steffian Bradley Architects is an international practice with offices in the UK, USA, Spain and China. Originally established in Boston, USA, in 1932, the London office has been open since 2002. Steffian Bradley Architects is a design-led practice that specialises in public sector buildings and prides itself on tailoring each design to the client’s individual needs.

Steffian Bradley Architects’ buildings are environmentally and socially responsible, enriching and respecting the communities they serve. Having collaborated with over 200 healthcare organisations worldwide on over 450 facilities, Steffian Bradley Architects are recognised world leaders in health care planning and design.

In the UK Steffian Bradley Architects projects currently comprise of high-profile NHS Trusts and PFI and LIFT projects, covering diagnostic treatment centres, community health centres, children’s hospitals, acute cancer hospitals and mental health facilities. Steffian Bradley Architects works closely with its clients to create exciting developments for their individual needs and unique sites. Steffian Bradley Architects’ design approach has resulted in many industry-related awards and commendations.

Royal Hospital Chelsea Infirmary Building design : Steffian Bradley Architects

Location: Royal Hospital Chelsea, London, England, UK

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The Royal Hospital Chelsea was founded by Charles II in 1682 for “The succour and relief of veterans broken by age and war”. It was built by Sir Christopher Wren and completed in 1692.

The Royal Hospital Chelsea is a living testament to the sacrifice made by successive generations of soldiers in the service of their country. Over its history it has housed in excess of 10,000 veterans.

Today the Royal Hospital Chelsea is home to some 300 veteran soldiers whose average age is 84. It has just taken its first female In-Pensioners, something made possible by the opening of the Margaret Thatcher Infirmary.

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