London studio Projects Office used sea-inspired colors and imagery to create a comfortable yet practical interior for a Mental Health at the Royal Hospital for Children and Adolescents in Edinburgh.
The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) facility is designed to feel non-institutional, so that patients feel comfortable, but also to look distinctly different from a home environment.
The Project office team – led by architects Bethan Kay, James Christian and Megan Charnley – collaborated with art consultancy Ginkgo projects inside, imagining it as “a third space which is neither hospital nor home”, but rather has its own identity.
They developed this approach following a series of workshops and interviews with young patients, their parents and staff members.
These sessions, carried out with the help of the artist James leadbitter, has helped architects understand many subtle details that can make a big difference to how patients feel in a space.
For example, rooms are designed so that occupants can then easily personalize them, giving them a sense of ownership. But they can easily come back after patients are discharged, giving the next resident a clean slate.
âIn an era of limited NHS funding and increased demand for mental health services, we believe that good design is a powerful and cost-effective healing tool,â said James Christian.
“We also believe that asking patients, staff and parents what they really need and want from healthcare spaces leads to richer and more useful spaces.”
The mental health unit includes outpatient services for 5 to 18 year olds and an inpatient unit for 12 to 18 year olds.
The designers found that the seaside was often mentioned as an environment that helps improve mental health, which is why Projects Office used it as a starting point for the design. Colors, patterns and patterns incorporate various seaside references.
âWe’ve taken a playful approach to our designs for artwork, while making sure to avoid the sometimes patronizing wall graphics that can appear in children’s hospitals,â Christian told Dezeen.
“Each graphic intervention reinforces the overall coastal theme, but a varied approach has been taken as to how they manifest themselves in the different spaces,” he explained.
“It ranges from simple maritime pendants that spell out the unit’s name in a TV room to a large lighthouse mural with a goal and targets, for ball games in the central garden.”
For the common areas, a major challenge was to offer a sense of security and privacy to all patients, especially those suffering from severe distress, without creating blind spots.
The designers tackled this problem with upholstered seating corners built into the walls, banquettes that extend to the ceiling, and a lighthouse-inspired den.
âAn array of levels of privacy and friendliness is used to create areas that range from joint activity and friendly conversation to nooks and crannies that provide the opportunity for private conversation and retreat without feeling isolated from others, âsaid Christian.
All of this was done on a tight budget through the use of off-the-shelf, out-of-the-box elements. Standard hospital furniture was simply personalized, while custom furniture items were constructed from plain plywood.
A similar approach is found in bedrooms, although these spaces have a softer, more relaxed feel.
Playful shelving and large wall panels make it easy for patients to display their belongings, while a window seat incorporates a movable ottoman, creating a variety of different ways for families to sit together.
These two details help make the rooms look less like a hospital.
The project was funded by the Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity. Association CEO Roslyn Neely said the results exceeded expectations.
âComing to CAMHS can be a very stressful time for children, youth and their families, so it was important to make sure that upon arrival they know they are in a safe place where they will be supported and valued. She said. noted.
âGinkgo and Projects Office went above and beyond to ensure that children and young people were involved in the design and transformed the space from nude and clinical into bright, welcoming and suitable for children and young people with problems. mental health. “