Search begins for architect to design new Fleming Centre

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) have launched a design competition to appoint an architect to design the new Fleming Centre building at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London.

The Fleming Centre is at the heart of the global Fleming Initiative, an innovative and collaborative new approach, led by the Trust and Imperial College London, with HRH Prince of Wales as its patron, to tackle anti-microbial resistance (AMR) around the world. The Centre is due to open on the St Mary’s site in 2028, helping to mark the centenary of the discovery of penicillin at the hospital by Sir Alexander Fleming.

Chaired by Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham, the Fleming Initiative will bring together worldwide expertise in science, technology, policy and behavioural science with clinical practice and expertise. At the Fleming Centre, scientists will work alongside clinicians, patients, members of the public and policy makers to scope, test and scale solutions to the problems created by drug-resistant infections. The Fleming Centre will be part of a global network of centres in strategic locations around the world, aiming to catalyse worldwide action.

Professor the Lord Darzi said: The launch of the RIBA design competition brings us one step closer to achieving the Fleming Centre's unique concept of breaking down the barriers between clinicians, scientists, policymakers, and most importantly, the public, in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. The inaugural Centre will be home to the pioneering research and public engagement needed to develop new solutions to help people in the UK, and further afield.”

The Centre will also be a key part of the Trust’s Paddington Life Sciences development which is creating a thriving ecosystem for life sciences research and innovation with St Mary’s as its hub. In turn, Paddington Life Sciences is an integral part of the Imperial WestTech Corridor, a globally significant concentration of technology and innovation stretching across west London acting as a catalyst for investment, employment and inclusive growth. 

St Mary’s Hospital – along with the Trust’s two other main sites, Charing Cross and Hammersmith hospitals – are part of the government’s New Hospital Programme. The Fleming Centre will be the first new building to open at St Mary’s as part of plans for the redevelopment of the whole hospital site over the next decade.

Professor Tim Orchard, Chief executive of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: "The launch of the RIBA design competition marks an exciting milestone for the Fleming Centre and the redevelopment of the wider St Mary's Hospital site. This state-of-the-art facility will not only honour the legacy of Alexander Fleming and St Mary’s as the birthplace of penicillin but also spearhead the fight against antimicrobial resistance through groundbreaking research and public engagement. 

“We are looking forward to collaborating with visionary architects to create a centre that will inspire and facilitate global change in healthcare in a building that will enhance the character of our local community. It will also be the first new building to open as part of plans for the redevelopment of the whole hospital site over the next decade. This will be a key step in securing St Mary’s position as a world-class trauma hospital and continuing its legacy for life-saving research.”

Professor Hugh Brady, President of Imperial College London, said: “The Fleming Centre will be a crucial hub, bringing together Imperial’s world-leading researchers with clinical and pharmaceutical experts, and helping us to engage with policymakers and the public about tackling antimicrobial resistance. We are excited about the transformative work we will be able to do in the new building to deal with this huge public health challenge.”

The Trust is proposing to build the Fleming Centre on the site currently occupied by The Bays buildings on the west of the hospital site. These former industrial warehouses were built around 1850 for transport and distribution networks and were incorporated into the hospital in 1983, primarily for office use. The new Fleming Centre will be an integral part of the new St Mary’s Hospital site once completed.

St Mary’s Hospital has been developed piecemeal over the past 170 years. The space and configuration limitations of the current buildings make it harder to respond to growing and changing healthcare demands and opportunities. The aging estate is increasingly impacting on patient care and experience, as well as the working lives of staff, despite millions being spent each year on essential maintenance. 

The Trust submitted a first-stage business case to the government’s New Hospital Programme in 2021 for a full redevelopment of St Mary’s and is currently awaiting a decision on funding to progress detailed design and town planning work. The Trust is proposing to build a new 800-bed hospital at the east of the estate. You can read more on our website here.