£5m art and design programme to enhance Edinburgh hospital

Art and interior design to play a key role in enhancing the patient environment at £150m new hospital

With less than one year until the £150m development opens its doors, NHS Lothian plans to transform the new hospital building into a vibrant and welcoming place are underway.

Over £5m of funding has been identified to improve the hospital environment for staff, patients, and their families.

More than 20 projects, and 30 different artists, have been involved, working with patients young and old to create a totally-unique art and therapeutic design programme in what is the largest capital commissioning programme for art in a new hospital in the UK.

To celebrate the innovation and variety of the programme a new blog is being launched showcasing the individual artists and their contribution to the hospital development.

The new facility will be home to services from the current Royal Hospital for Sick Children; Department of Clinical Neurosciences (DCN) at the Western General, and the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

The new build is under construction next to the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh (RIE) on the bioQuarter Campus in Little France and is due to open in spring 2018.

There is extensive research which demonstrates that art and therapeutic design can help reduce stress and promote patient recovery

The large-scale programme is being funded through a £3.1m cash injection from the Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity and another £2m from the Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation. It is being curated and produced by art and design consultant, Ginkgo.

Project director, Tom Littlewood, said: “There is extensive research which demonstrates that art and therapeutic design can help reduce stress and promote patient recovery.

“Our programme has been built around working with staff, patients, artists and designers to enrich the patient experience particularly within arrival, waiting, treatment, and ward spaces to promote a sense of identity and distinctiveness within the hospital environment.”

Janice Mackenzie, clinical director for the RHCYP & DCN Reprovision Project, added: “These projects are all very exciting and are about enhancing patient and family experiences.

“We will have stained-glass windows, musical installations - artwork that brings the building to life and supports healing and recovery.

“The artists and designers have worked closely with patients and their families as well as staff in the development of their design proposals.

“They continue to involve them in the process which has been an important factor in the overall programme.”

“The programme will continue throughout the remaining months of construction and into the early months of 2018 before the new building opens its doors in spring 2018.”

Highlights from the programme include:

  • The RHSC play and waiting area: Warren Design and Emily Hogarth: The main RHSC waiting area, which is already being referred to as the ‘Pod’, will be filled with integrated technology to create a fun and welcoming escape from clinical areas. The large and airy space is being developed by design team William Warren and Daniel Warren. They are designing a number of bespoke furniture pieces, as well as features that will include digital technology, activities for young people and soft play areas. Artist, Emily Hogarth, is currently producing some paper cut-out graphics in collaboration with Warren Design to enhance the waiting and play areas
  • RHSC and DCN interview rooms, sitting rooms and drop-in centre: Dress for the Weather: Design team, Dress for the Weather, are developing an enhanced interior design strategy for the interview rooms, the sitting rooms within the new RHSC and DCN, and the RHSC drop-in centre. The interview rooms are an important and often-sensitive environment, and the team has developed a subtle design which aims to make those in the rooms feel both comfortable and secure. A theme has been developed for each of the sitting rooms, relating it to a more-domestic counterpart. These include a games room, reading room, and solarium. The drop-in centre design is multi-functional, adaptable, homely, and will include bespoke patterns created with users and staff of the current service
  • Old to New: Kate Ive (Sculptor)/Emma Dunmore(Researcher)/Joachim King (Cabinet Maker): The focus of this project is to share the identity, history, and stories of the three institutions as they undergo a transition from their original sites to the new build. A series of 19 beautifully-crafted wall-mounted display cases will showcase archive and historical material alongside newly-commissioned work. All the content will be thought-provoking, educational, descriptive, storytelling and attractive with a personal touch. Researcher, Emma Dunmore, was commissioned to explore the archival and historical material available while Kate Ive has evolved the project into a series of sculptural artworks which reinterpret the histories and stories of the three hospitals
  • CAMHS enhanced group areas and bedrooms: Projects Office: The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services department will be contained within the ground floor of the new hospital, with access to several external courtyards. Design team, Projects Office, has been appointed to enhance the interior design of the communal areas as well as to create opportunities for patients to personalise their bedrooms during their stay. The team has undertaken lengthy engagement with patients, families and staff, facilitated by artist James Leadbitter. One key theme that emerged as a common response to the question ‘What does good mental health feel like?’ was the environment of the seaside and coast. The seaside theme will be reflected throughout the CAMHS area and will make the unit have a homely and calming feel. Being situated on the ground floor will give the children and young people direct access to their own outside space. One of the secure gardens will display a play mural incorporating the Tipperlin lighthouse. Goal posts and targets will be printed on the wall to encourage ball games
  • Artist residency programme: Five artist residencies and fellowships have been commissioned to create a body of new work and foster new cultural relationships arising from creative collaborations within the health and wellbeing research and practice agenda with the hospitals and city communities. The work produced will be shown or located within RHSC and DCN and also with city partners