Maternity Unit

Powell and Moya were a small but highly influential post-war firm of architects. Perhaps their most celebrated construction was the Skylon, built in 1951 for the Festival of Britain. To find one of their buildings in such a hidden corner of a now huge hospital complex is nothing, if not surprising. This was the first phase of  a much larger scheme. Phillip Powell and Robert Healey were the architects for this £1m development, including two, now disused, nurses accommodation blocks. At the time the population of Wythenshawe was about 104,000, though, ‘the maternity unit was probably needed 10 years ago (earlier) when the population was rather younger’. The planning of the building was a very deliberate response to the processes and policy surrounding birth. The department contained lecture rooms, a library, exercise rooms and a range of different sized wards. Most of the teaching accommodation is now altered, remaining however are the outdoor courtyards, still used by recovering patients. The exposed columns and beams are finished in bush-hammered concrete. The windows and doors are West African mahogany, as are the interior fittings, such as screens and buffer rails. To read the building from the exterior is now difficult as a result of planting and fencing, but the relatively intact state of the original elements is pleasing. The model for the maternity ward was adopted as Powell and Moya were commissioned to further develop the hospital through 1967-70.