Now we really know how big a hole it would take to fill the Albert Hall

One of London’s largest ever excavations has been just completed with the help of Scott Tallon Walker Architects. This involved removing the equivalent of five storeys of earth – 80,000 cubic metres – to prepare the site for a cancer treatment centre at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The hole, dug by excavator McGee to a depth of 28.5m in an area 87m long by 67m wide, is big enough to accommodate the Royal Albert Hall or 640 London buses.

Proton beam therapy is a form of radiotherapy used to treat cancer which can be targeted extremely precisely, causing minimal damage to surrounding tissue. It has been offered overseas to NHS patients who are eligible for treatment in England since 2008 in a programme that has to date supported approximately 1,000 patients.

Together with the Department of Health, NHS England is funding the development of two centres at The Christie in Manchester and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for NHS patients to be treated in the UK. Patients are due to be treated at The Christie from summer next year, with UCLH following in summer 2020. When complete they will each treat up to 750 patients every year.

“This may have been STW’s most challenging brief ever,” says chairman Eoin O’Morain, “removing earth equivalent to 640 London bus loads out of the centre of one the world’s busiest capitals. But the team effort has delivered and we’re looking forward to delivering the project on time and on budget, a core component of our contract.


“We’ve had a practice in London for well over four decades and we’ve recently been voted one of the top 10 healthcare practices in the UK,” he adds. “We’re also working on the remodelling, refurbishment and extension of two iconic buildings within the St Bartholomew’s Hospital site to provide a new cardiac-focused hospital for Nuffield Health.

“The two buildings make up an important classical frontage to Giltspur Street in the heart of City of London. Some of your readers may know the buildings better as a film location for the BBC TV series Sherlock.”

The project team includes:

  • Scott Tallon Walker Architects – architect and lead consultant
  • Campbell Reith – structural, civil, geotechnical and environmental engineering consultant
  • WSP – mechanical, electrical, and plumbing design and the interface with the different contractors.
  • McGee –bulk excavation and main propping of the centre.
  • Fayat Piling – piling and diaphragm wall
  • Reach Active – service diversions and utilities

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