Scott Tallon Walker

BreastCheck, Merrion Unit



1998 - 2003
Elm Park, Dublin 4

Breast Check
900 sq.m

Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland / Selected for Exhibition

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The Irish National Cancer Strategy called for a breast cancer screening programme for all women aged 50 to 65. Centres of Excellence were established in four locations around Ireland. The Merrion Unit located on the St. Vincent’s university hospital campus in Dublin was the first purpose-built facility to be designed as part of this programme. The unit serves a population of 160,000 women, and carries out 55,000 mammograms each year. 

The needs of a screening centre such as this are to provide a dignified and reassuring atmosphere for the patient cohort and equally important to design in a way to provide a discreet service. The building is designed with reception and waiting areas serving three screening rooms (screened for radiation) on the ground floor. The race track plan allows women entering and leaving the facility not to cross paths to maintain discretion. The service provides digital mammography in-house and is also the hub for mobile outreach community screening centres, offices and laboratories on the upper level is where mammograms are read and stored, and cytology is carried out. Administrative offices for making appointments and communicating results are also located at this level. All plant areas are located in a roof-level plant room. 

Internally the interior design is aimed at providing a calm hotel-like quality. An arts programme was developed with the client to choose appropriate artworks to enhance the interiors. The building is clad in a mixture of cedar boarding within aluminium frames, aluminium windows and grey granite.