Planning approval for Oriel – a new typology for eye care and research

Design proposals for Oriel were approved by Camden Council’s planning committee last night. Designed by White Arkitekter, AECOM and Penoyre & Prasad, Oriel integrates world-class eye care and research for Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and UCL’s Institute of Ophthalmology, within the high-tech setting of the King’s Cross & St Pancras Knowledge Quarter.

The ambition was to shape a place that was far removed from the traditional British hospital or healthcare facility. In a similar vein to our Swedish healthcare project New Karolinska biomedical campus in Stockholm, Oriel is designed to actively foster knowledge exchange between leading care and research institutions to deliver the greatest benefits for patients.


Drawing on White Arkitekter’s significant research into healing environments, light and materiality, our evidence-based design supports recovery, while shaping a high-performance workplace for staff.


Oriel is set to transform how we provide the best levels of care for patients in the UK by strengthening collaboration between healthcare and academia.
Caroline Varnauskas, Lead Architect at White Arkitekter

From the spectacular atrium that welcomes all and the abundantly landscaped roof terrace that offers staff sweeping views across London, to the detailing, wayfinding and interiors that enhance the human experience – this is a place that has been designed with care throughout, says Caroline Varnauskas.



Central to the development is the grand atrium, designed by White Arkitekter. Oriel’s welcoming arrival space is the main public meeting and circulation area for clinicians and patients, researchers and students, as well as support staff and visitors. Based on over a decade’s worth of our research into healing environments, timber has been proven to reduce levels of anxiety for patients, while enhancing wellbeing for employees and visitors. Timber interiors for healthcare were deployed on our design of Psychiatric Clinic at Södra Älvsborg Hospital in Borås – this was the first time in the world that timber had been extensively used to enhance the patient experience.


The focal point of the atrium is a sculptural timber volume that extends from the ground level to a height of six-storeys, serving as an enclosure for the lifts, while creating a striking touchpoint for wayfinding that mirrors the undulating geometry of the surrounding building.
Rafael Crespo Solano, Architect at White Arkitekter

– Granite flooring flows from the public realm into the building interior. Coupled with terrazzo walls and timber detailing, this lends a civic presence to this pioneering centre, says Rafael Crespo Solano.


We were also responsible for the design of Oriel’s generously landscaped rooftop terrace. Like the atrium, this is an important social space that employs evidence-based design to reduce levels of stress, enhance wellbeing and to bring people together; encouraging collaboration and camaraderie, while providing a multifunctional place for reflection, study, events, or simply lunch.


Oriel is expected to welcome its first patients in 2026.


Read more about the project here.


The Design Team

AECOM is leading the design team, acting as lead designer and also providing civil, structural and building services engineering, as well as sustainability and other specialist consultancy services. Penoyre & Prasad, a studio of Perkins&Will London, is the lead architect. White Arkitekter is responsible for designing all interiors and external landscapes,  including the ambience and lighting of all public spaces.

Contact Person

Caroline Varnauskas

Caroline Varnauskas



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