St Bernard's Hospital: Poetry, enamel panels and interior design

Arts central to design of new medium-secure unit

Service users at St Bernard’s Hospital in west London have informed the artworks and interior design of Thames Lodge, a new medium-secure unit.

Replacing older buildings to create fit-for-purpose accommodation, Thames Lodge is part of the Three Bridges Medium-Secure Campus, which will provide a bright, welcoming environment to enable hospital staff to deliver excellent care for service users.

Willis Newson was were appointed by the West London Mental Health NHS Trust to work with David Morley Architects to integrate art into the new building.

Working with writer, Sue Mayfield; and artist, Ali Brown, the team devised a series of creative workshops, engaging service users in the design process to build a sense of pride and ownership of the new unit.

Discussing the journey a river makes from source to sea, service users reflected on personal, geographic and emotional journeys they had made and wrote poetry inspired by this.

Artist, Alison Milner, was selected to create the final artworks for Thames Lodge, using the colours, theme and ideas selected by service users, as well as taking inspiration from local landscapes and weaving lines of their poetry into her designs.

Milner created a range of tailored artworks to suit different spaces in the unit. In the children and family visitor spaces, circular enamel panels illustrated with day and night-time riverside scenes create a friendly, welcoming impression to put younger visitors at ease.

Large-scale graphic murals help to zone the space, creating unique environments in the quiet rooms, meeting spaces and dining rooms. Each feature wall artwork contributes to a coherent identity for the Three Bridges Medium-Secure Unit, which is directly linked to the local area and the people who live in the space.

“The artwork is great and calming and, more importantly, it promotes a therapeutic environment. Service users and staff really like it, too, especially as it was their own suggestions and ideas which helped create and inspire most of the pieces,” said Gerd Sortland, service change lead for the redevelopment team.

Image by John Sturrock

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