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Studio Weave's Lullaby Factory strikes right note

[FIRST LOOK] Studio Weave has transformed a narrow space between two buildings at Great Ormond Street Hospital, in London, into a musical installation

The Hackney-based practice has built a network of listening pipes in an ‘awkward’ space created during the multi-phased redevelopment of Great Ormond Street Hospital, in Bloomsbury.

The completion of Llewelyn Davies Yeang’s Morgan Stanley Clinical Building formed a gap, less than one metre wide in places, between the new hospital and the existing Southwood Building. This 1930s building is due to be demolished in 15 years time, but until this happens the large windows in the west elevation of the MSCB will look directly onto a pipe-ridden brickwork facade of its neighbour.

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The ten-storey installation, which incorporates old tap and gauges reclaimed from a hospital boilerhouse that was in the process of being decommissioned, adds more pipes to create a ‘a secret world that cannot be seen except from inside the hospital’.

Children can listen to a lullaby composed by sound artist Jessica Curry, especially for the project, through listening pipes next to the canteen or from the wards by tuning into a special radio station.

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Architect’s view

In our competition entry we proposed that the Southwood Building, with its oodles of mysterious pipes and plant is not really the Southwood Building, but the Lullaby Factory, manufacturing and releasing gentle, beautiful lullabies to create a calming and uplifting environment for the young patients to recover in.

Our aim for this project was to re-imagine the Southwood façade as the best version of itself, accepting and celebrating its qualities and oddities; and rather than hiding what is difficult, creating something unique and site specific. We have designed a fantasy landscape reaching ten storeys in height and 32 metres in length, which can engage the imagination of everyone, from patients and parents to hospital staff, by providing an interesting and curious world to peer out onto.

Project data

Start on site July 2012 (prefabrication commenced before this)
Date of completion October 2012
Client Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children
Architect Studio Weave
Structural engineer Structure Workshop
Main contractor AB3 Workshops
Sound artist Jessica Curry (composer/sound artist)
Form of contract NEC3 Option C

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