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AJ SPECIFICATION CASE STUDY

Vibrant artworks animate Avanti’s Sheffield Children’s Hospital

Sheffield childrens hospital jill tate photography 18
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Avanti-designed bedrooms of Sheffield Children’s Hospital with colours and geometric artwork by Morag Myerscough

COLOUR STRATEGY • PROJECT DATA • PROJECT ARTIST’S APPROACH

Sheffield Children’s Hospital began modernisation of its patient accommodation with a design competition in 2012, starting on site in 2014. The project comprises a new building, the refurbishment of the adjacent existing wing and the rebuilding of a Victorian villa. It provides a new hospital main entrance, outpatients consulting suites, specialist diagnostic and treatment areas, and three wards.

Children and their families arriving at the hospital enter through a light-filled atrium. At the heart of this is the sculptural ‘play tube’, which provides play space in a fun, non-institutional environment, while visually placing children and play at the heart of the hospital. 

Location plan

Location plan

Ward areas have been carefully designed to deliver high standards of observation, natural light, and child-friendly interior design that is non-specific to age or gender. The project provides the hospital with more single rooms with en suite facilities, centralised play spaces and a smoother journey through its services.

To reinforce the transformation, the hospital’s arts programme, Artfelt, commissioned artist Morag Myerscough to provide child-appropriate bedroom environments. These were co-designed by Avanti Architects along with users and patients.

Claudia Bloom, director, Avanti Architects

Avanti architects 04

Avanti architects 04

Avanti architects 03

Avanti architects 03

Source: Jill Tate

First floor plan

First floor plan

Colour strategy

There are many guiding technical principles to achieving a successful hospital bedroom: clinical delivery, accessibility and patient safety, materials delivery, observation, daylight and views, as well as meeting rigorous cleaning, infection control, robustness and resilience criteria. But, while striving to meet all these goals, it is crucial to ensure that design’s role in creating joyful places is not forgotten. 

To achieve this final objective and to ‘hide in plain sight’ the clinical elements of medical service panels, we developed purpose-made storage units with high-pressure laminate-faced panels and doors, and presented these to artist Morag Myerscough as her blank canvas. We envisaged that some of these laminate panels would have bespoke digital print artwork laminated into the HPL finish and others would, economically, be chosen from Formica’s standard plain colour range. Cat Powell of Artfelt, the arts co-ordinator, organised the selection of the artists throughout the project, and we were enormously pleased when Morag stated her desire to be involved in the bedrooms. 

Single room

Single room

Avanti created a background material palette for the bedrooms of light oak door frames with off-white laminate doors, off-white painted walls, and a warm grey linoleum floor finish to complement Morag’s vibrant designs. We echoed her generous colour palette in our choices for the other bedroom elements: the coloured glass over-panels to the bedroom doors, the roller blinds and the upholstery fabrics. 

All finishes have been chosen in consultation with the staff – including the clinical, infection control and estates teams – to ensure robust detailing and the resilience to cleaning and disinfection regimes required for a hospital environment, while keeping central the need to provide a generous and engaging (and gender-neutral) environment appropriate for young patients aged six weeks to 18 years and their families.

Mary Reid, senior interior designer, Avanti Architects

Avanti architects 02

Avanti architects 02

Source: Avanti Architects

Detail

Detail

Project data

Start on site 2014
Completion September 2017
Gross internal floor area 12,550m2 (new-build: 9,500m2, comprising new wings and atrium, rebuild of Victorian house with new basement, covered car park, covered service yard and plant areas at basement and roof. Refurbished area: 3,050m2)
Form of contract NEC 3 option A
Construction cost £28 million
Construction cost per m2 £2,230 
Architect Avanti Architects
Client Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust
Structural engineer WYG Engineering
M&E consultant MEP Hoare Lea
Quantity surveyor Auburn Ainsley
Arts co-ordinator Artfelt
Artist Morag Myerscough
Landscape architect ME Landscape Studio
Fire engineer Arup Fire
Acoustic and transport adviser WYG Environment Planning Transport
BREEAM assessor Hoare Lea
Project manager John Petty
CDM co-ordinator Beaumont & Cowling
Approved building inspector Turton Building Control
Main contractor Simons Construction
CAD software used Revit 3DS Max 
Annual CO2 emissions 27.5kg/m2 (based on SAP dwelling emissions rate worsheet)

Four bed room

Four bed room

Avanti architects 05

Avanti architects 05

Source: Jill Tate

Project artist’s approach

Four schemes are rotated throughout 46 en suite bedrooms and six multi-occupancy bays, including a paler colour palette designed for children with conditions such as autism. 

Although the rooms are for children, I didn’t want them to be childish, because children of all different age groups will be staying in them. I also wanted to create somewhere parents would be happy to spend time in, too. It was just about making a bedroom that you felt good to be in.

The brief I was given was that, whatever I wanted to do, I would have to do on Formica. The wood grain on Formica is actually screen-printed onto paper and then laminated. So to get the really pure colours that I wanted, I had hoped to screen-print my own pattern onto the existing wood grain. Unfortunately we couldn’t do that, because you can only screen print one or two colours onto the paper before it disintegrates. In the end, we scanned the wood grain and then digitally printed the patterns, making sure it all matched up. Then we printed it onto paper and laminated it like normal Formica.

Section aa

Section aa

I worked alongside patients and nurses to understand which colours and patterns they preferred, while also exploring which clinical factors needed to be considered. As an artist, you can’t lose that vision of how things could be, but at the same time you need to take people’s concerns on board. It’s a collaboration, rather than a compromise.

Going into a grim and grey room isn’t going to make anybody feel good. But to go into a room that lets you know that people care about you and they’re thinking about you – it’s a no-brainer really. It makes people happier and more assured that everybody is concerned about them and wants them to get better.

Morag Myerscough, project artist 

Materials board

Materials board

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