Case Study: Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, Dumfries

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Embodying the ‘Garden Hospital’ concept, Dumfries & Galloway Royal Infirmary (DGRI) is a 344-bed hospital that sits amongst extensive green infrastructure. Designed by Ryder for NHS Dumfries and Galloway showcases good practice in design around therapeutic value and use of pre-existing natural features.


Part of the approved Dumfries and Galloway Structure Plan and the adopted Nithsdale Local Plan, the new hospital replaces the former Royal Infirmary in the centre of Dumfries, relocating to the South-West of the town. Completed in 2017, the £212 million building supports the comfort and wellbeing for patients and attract skilled NHS staff to serve the 150,000 population covered by the health board.

Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary Garden
Patient Garden at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary


Underpinned by a clear zoning strategy, the hospital campus design ensures a person-centred environment that is safe, effective and efficient to operate. Key patient pathways were tested and measured to ensure an optimised design that minimised travel distances between departments. By design, circulation routes segregate flows and provide intuitive wayfinding. Principal circulation routes are separated by floor to minimise cross flows. Routes include rest opportunities for elderly users and areas that promote interaction between staff disciplines within the hospital.

Garden Hospital Principles

Connection and good access to the outdoors have been established for the positive health outcomes it delivers for both patients and staff. Seventeen courtyards and gardens feature throughout the hospital, providing calming views and places for restful healing. Patient wards are surrounded by garden spaces, many of which play an integral part in therapeutic practice. Palliative care bedrooms have their own private gardens, with dedicated space for beds to be wheeled outside, allowing patients to experience the natural outdoor environment. Central to the ‘Garden Hospital’ design is an emphasis on natural daylight. Light ‘courts’ throughout the inpatient pavilions allow for clear views across wards for both patients and staff, opening up interiors and filling spaces with natural daylight. This approach ‘designs out’ any sense of enclosed isolation for the patients.


Reconstituted pre-cast stone panels provide both structural qualities in a load-bearing capacity and visual continuity across the three principle forms of the hospital. The hospital uses a granite mix, similar to Galloway white granite, for the inpatient pavilions and women’s and children’s hospital. A honey blonde sandstone mix chosen to clad the diagnostic and treatment blocks reflects the sandstone found throughout the west of Scotland. The materials reference the local woodland through vertical patterns which provides texture and casts of light and shadow across the façade. This effect resembles the dappled light seen through a collection of multi-stemmed trees.

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“One of the huge factors (in its success) was the engagement with the different staff groups during the design stages. This helped to develop a sense of ownership in the different clinical groups. Having staff members around the table with the architects and designers (was important). The staff members would then cascade the meeting ideas to their teams, and report feedback. So for those who wanted to be involved, they could get a say in it. And the departments that work particularly well are the ones that had a big input from the clinicians.”

Stephen Howie, Project Manager for NHS Dumfries and Galloway

Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary Cafe
Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary Cafe

“Often people come to a big hospital with trepidation, but this building doesn’t have that feel. When you’re walking into it, you could be in a hotel or an airport terminal. There’s the brightness and the views out. It doesn’t have an oppressive, clinical feel to it, and this is important,”

Stephen Howie, Project Manager for NHS Dumfries and Galloway

Further Information

Case Study Woodland View

Case Study Main Page

A&DS Public Buildings Work 

Ryder Architecture Project Page for DGRI

RIAS Awards 2018 Shortlist page 

About A&DS Case Studies

Our case studies series shows the benefits of good design in Scotland’s built environment. We highlight the processes behind our built environment as well as the finished result, to grow our collective understanding of good design practice. More of our case studies are available here. We want to grow this resource as much as we can. So, if you have a question or comment about our Case Studies series, email us at

[Updated Monday, 16th June 2020]

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