It is not every day you see someone mowing a roof. But it is a necessary job at the new multi-million pound Orchard Centre in north Hull. The £14m facility in Orchard Park Road is nearing completion. It will bring health, council and community services together in one place.
The centre has a sedum roof, which will need mowing three times a year. It absorbs rain and is linked to a rainwater harvesting system. The water drains from the roof into a tank in the ground, which can hold 18,000 litres. The water is then used to flush the toilets in the centre. The system saves an estimated 57,000 litres of water each year. The building also has an Ethylene Tetra Fluoro Ethylene (ETFE) roof above the main atrium. The lightweight structure allows more light in to the building. The hi-tech material, which is self-cleaning, is the same product used to cover the National Aquatics Centre, known as the Water Cube, at last year's Olympics in Beijing.
Martin Standley, the Sewell Group's project manager at the site, said the ETFE roof will create a unique impression for visitors. He said: "It was a really cloudy day and I brought some visitors into the building. They said it was almost brightening their day.
"If someone comes in on a dull, dark day, and is not looking forward to their visit, they will see a light, airy and friendly facility and will feel much more relaxed about going to their doctor."
Paul Sewell, managing director of the Sewell Group, said: "The less expensive the building is to run, the more money can go in to frontline services.
"That is a big plus for the community."
The Orchard Centre is the seventh and biggest to be delivered in the first phase of the city's NHS Local Improvement Finance Trust (Lift) initiative, delivered by Citycare - the partnership between NHS Hull and the Sewell Group.
Work on the site began in 2007 and is currently two weeks ahead of schedule. The centre is expected to open in December 2009.
Sewell Group - www.sewell-group.co.uk
Hull Citycare Limited (LIFTCo) - www.citycare-developments.co.uk