Hospitals aren’t typically where you’d expect to see art, but thanks to British designer Morag Myerscough, now you will.
Myerscough recently finished the design of the wards at the Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Commissioned by Artfelt, the Children’s Hospital Charity’s arts programme, the project involved creating 46 bespoke en-suite bedrooms and six multi-occupancy suites.
Rather than going with more traditional kiddy designs, Myerscough opted for a more minimalist, domestic aesthetic – a choice she felt was appropriate for children of all ages, as well as for parents and hospital staff.
Working with Avanti Architects, she installed four schemes composed of geometric shapes and various combinations of yellow, green, pink, and blue. Myerscough also went with paler tones to accommodate patients with autism or others sensitive to bright patterns.
As for the medical equipment and devices, you can see that there are none. Or so it seems.
To give the rooms a homey feel – and less like a hospital – Myerscough designed the spaces to hide the wires and cables behind Formica panels.
The end results are rooms that are beautiful and considerate. Places where everyone – from the patients, to the parents, to the staff – can heal, have fun, work, and play.
We recently talked to Myerscough to know more about the work that went into this amazing project.
What was the inspiration for your design of the Sheffield Children’s Hospital?
“I have worked on projects in and with hospitals over quite a few years now. Young patients and their families often stay in hospital for long periods of time. I wanted to make bedrooms that both young patients and parents felt happy to spend time in. I did not want to make themed rooms. Just rooms that felt uplifting and welcoming — homely. The use of the wood laminate with the pattern gives a less clinical feel to the room.”
Knowing you were designing for kids with special needs, what were the main considerations you had for the project?
“The clinical staff were very concerned about the extent of the patterns and that they did not disturb the young patients as some were under strong medication which can lead to hallucinations etc.
“So I made one of the room designs in blues and greens with little contrast and the pattern only appearing on the back wall not the direction the patient was facing. The wall in front had calm blues and greens facing them.”
What was the most challenging aspect of designing for a children’s hospital?
“As I mentioned before I have previously designed various areas in the Royal London Children’s Hospital and New Hospital, London but never bedrooms as they are usually a no go area, except for small interventions.
“So when I was commissioned for this project I jumped at the chance. The rooms are so important for the wellbeing of the patient and their families and so it is such a challenging area to work in.
“The clinical staff were quite skeptical initially of my original designs and so I made scale models of each room and Cat Powell and her Artfelt team did a survey with the patients and families and they unanimously loved the designs and wanted rooms that moved away from clinical grey/pale blue and green.
“This was great news for us to move forward with the project.”
Could you tell us more about your creative process when it came to the construction materials? What did you do differently, considering the client’s needs?
“Avanti Architects are the designers of the new extension and materials were already specified. It is always laminates for infection control. So then I worked closely with Formica to ensure I could achieve the colours and wood finish I wanted by printing digitally.
“Initially, I wanted to screen print the colours as they are often richer and deeper, but this was not possible as I wanted to use several colours. So I worked closely with Formica to scan one of their wood veneers and combine with my patterns and print digitally. It was incredibly important to match the colours very closely to ensure the digital panels sat comfortably with the standard Formica colours I had chosen from their range.”
The final design was also made with adults – parents, specifically – in mind. How did the hospital staff, as well as the parents of patients, respond to your redesign?
“It is always difficult to show people what you intend from a screen projection or a 2D image it is a lot to expect people to then imagine the designs as a room and how that will feel — people can interpret things so differently.
“So making scale models really helped with this process and as soon as everybody saw the models they immediately understood. Now the rooms are built I understand from the feedback everybody is happy and looking forward to working in the new wards.
“It is really important people are happy where they work and so you need to really consider all people when you are working in these projects. I did not want to make rooms and wards that were just for children they are for all everybody.”
What’s next for you?
“A few things — I am currently in Sweden installing phase 1— 6 months of my 12 month —‘mood colour tweet’ project in Linkoping hospital.
“The second phase of the project will be completed in 2018. A permanent installation next to the Thames in London for Battersea Power Station completed May. Working with Luke Morgan — Supergrouplondon — on a temporary installation piece next to the sea in the UK and a festival in Romania.
“My book ‘BELONGING’ hopefully published end of this year beginning of next.”