BBH Awards - Ferndene children's centre gets Best Use of the Arts Award

Nature-inspired artworks praised by judges

Ferndene Children and Young Peoples Centre in Northumberland picked up the award for Best Use of the Arts

The arts programme at Ferndene Children and Young People’s Centre has won the award for Best Use of the Arts

It is based on the local countryside, permeating both the internal and external spaces of the 40-bed centre for children and young people with complex learning disabilities and mental health problems.

The judges said: “This shows a wonderful use of art in a facility for young people which is age appropriate and where the artwork is really integrated well into the building. It is also one of only a few examples where the artwork is evident both inside and outside.”

The nature-inspired artworks were designed and created following a series of workshops involving patients, and their ideas and poetry have informed the uplifting words and images that now adorn the building. The young people were also involved in creating a time capsule that has been installed behind a decorative glass screen, while two audio posts in the external space encourage patients to upload their own music and literary creations.

Artworks are integrated into the very fabric of the building and the outside spaces, from the windows and cladding to the gates and seating, rather than being an add-on or afterthought as happens in many other facilities. These images are bolder in busy public areas and calmer in the bedrooms and corridors.

As well as helping to create a pleasant environment, many of the works are also functional, with window coverings offering privacy, balustrades aiding safe transition through outside spaces, and a recycled glass paving trail replacing traditional signposting, which could pose a ligature risk.

WINNER: Ferndene Children and Young People’s Centre, Northumberland (Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, Medical Architecture, Laing O’Rourke)

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