Wayfinding adventures in super graphics

We’ve been using our own bespoke designed super graphics for a long time as part of the process of developing interior schemes.

At one time they might have been viewed as stand-alone features adding a brand identity to the building but increasingly (if not completely so) these super graphics are an important part of the overall wayfinding strategy. They work alongside the paint finishes helping to identify areas, create landmarks and way points as visitors circulate through a building.

Graphics and visual imagery in general is readily available through stock libraries online but if you look closely you will often observe the same stock images appearing time and time again. We believe that schemes deserve better.

At the Childrens’ Day Unit (Milton Keynes University Hospital) we designed a complete suite of playful graphics based around the theme of the farm which were installed full height on walls throughout the unit. Graphics, flooring and wall finishes were all tuned to work with eachother.

At Birkett House SEN school the headteacher said that there was a noticeable improvement in the way that pupils independently moved to their classrooms rather than being escorted. This was in no small measure due to the way in which we used the finishes and graphics to help make the building more legible to a non-literate population.

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Newlands Primary Community school refurb

We recently completed this scheme working with Leicestershire County Council and Willmott Dixon Construction. Newlands Primary school relocated to an existing 1930s school site which had a transformational refurbishment to provide the school with a new home.

Refurbishment projects are often harder to resolve for an interior designer than a new build as you’re trying to tune in to the existing building architecture (rather lovely 1930s period in this case) , strip away the build up of years of detritus and develop a new overarching vision for the scheme. At the same time its important to work with the incoming school to carry over ideas and themes they’ve been using on their old site but at the same time refresh and in some cases re-direct. When it works the results are astonishing.

 

Milton Mouse is getting a makeover

The Milton Mouse Children’s Unit at MK University Hospital is getting a makeover.

The project started with a commission from the Arts for Health team to develop a mural design for Ward 4 on the Children’s Unit. The brief was to develop a feature that would enhance the ward with minimal maintenance implications. We ran some very successful engagement sessions with staff and young patients to create river themed artwork and this was then developed into a wall ‘river’ super graphic which was installed by local sign company Chameleon on the existing wall panels along the main corridor leading into the ward.

The hospital were so delighted as were their patients that a few months later the hospital asked Cantoo to take on a much bigger scheme to help transform the entire Children’s Unit consisting of 2 wards and a day centre unit with a whole range of graphics and other associated refurbishments.

Part of the scheme included producing new layouts for the Play Area, coordinating the installation of some immersive technology as well as designing bespoke fitted furniture and specifying new loose furniture. We also helped to develop an overarching colour scheme which was used as part of the ongoing decorating maintenance programme.

The project has been delivered in phases; Ward 4 was followed by Ward 5 and now we’re about to implement works on the day centre unit, Milton Mouse, for young out-patients.

Getting all tessellated! – Birkett House Hydrotherapy Pool mosaics

For the last year or so we’ve been working as the Interior designers for the Birkett House special school new build scheme in Leicestershire. Our client is Leicestershire County Council with the main contractor as Willmott Dixon Construction.

A key part of what we do are the engagement processes we like to develop with a school in order to understand how they tick so that our design can be part of the transformative outcomes for staff and pupil.

One of these projects has been an inclusive mosaic project for the hydrotherapy pool that encouraged every pupil and lots of staff to produce a mosaic tile to help energise the pool area and contribute to a sense of ownership.

The overall concept was that the mosaic tiles would be arranged in a pattern similar in concept to the Lego urban art interventions and the tessellated super graphics being used in other places around the school such as the circulation areas. The background thinking to this is that pupils on the autistic spectrum respond favourably to logical repeated patterns which in turn contributes to a calming environment.

We created a template for the mosaics based on the 250x500mm standard white pool tile. This was the template that the school used to set out their mosaics. After some initial worries that we wouldn’t be able to produce enough tiles; the school eventually generated over 150 mosaic sets – more than enough!

We ran inset training workshops with the staff and also supervised some of the pupil workshops to ensure that we had a consistent approach. The task itself particularly suited children on the autistic spectrum as it requires accuracy, gluing the tiles precisely within the lines, and an ability to develop abstract patterns.

One member of staff working with complex needs children with limited motor skills devised a particularly creative approach on how to engage her class. Children painted their design onto the mosaic template which was then duplicated by members of staff as the final mosaic pattern. This was a very good solution to the challenge of enabling every pupil to contribute to the scheme.

mosaic scheme

lego urban art

birkett house mosaic workshop

Project FitzRoy – taking a walk through fields and sky in a brand new CAMHS unit

Today patients and staff are moving into the brand new FitzRoy House CAMHS unit.

We were commissioned by St Andrews Healthcare Trust to deliver a design integration project as part of their new Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) unit. The two storey facility will give specialised bespoke care for up to 110 young people and is the largest residential mental health facility for adolescents within Europe.

Early on we involved the service users in an engagement programme which explored every aspect of the new building. These workshops generated ideas which helped to develop the concepts for the interior design of the building; providing a positive environment and one which will ease the service users’ transition into their new building.

We used the workshop process to discuss how different colours made them feel which we then developed into a set of biophilic themes around nature with colour schemes linked to ‘Field + Sky’. This theme and the conversations we had were used to inform the naming of the 11 new wards such as Brook, Fern and Berry and also the colours, super graphics and zones around the building.

Starting in the wards; the most private spaces, super graphics were used to identify and personalise each space including the ensuite bathrooms, the dining rooms and each ward entrance. The themes and colours were also used to develop coherent wayfinding elements for the public spaces with features in the main entrance, the Education area, Sports facilities and outdoor spaces. An important part of the integrated design approach was to develop modular systems which could be used throughout the building. One example of this are the display boards on each ward which will be ‘owned’ and customised by each service user as well as the circulation 3D display cases. We even worked on a 1:1 basis with one service user to create the signage for the ‘Branch Out’ cafe.

A critical part of the whole design process was the sampling and qualifying of designs and  specifications for the new unit. Aside from the paramount anti-ligature concerns the client has extensive experience in what does and doesn’t work in relation to safeguarding issues for their service users. The challenge was to integrate these stringent design parameters into the various manufactured elements whilst at the same time maintaining a light touch – a hard trick to pull off but one we feel we succeeded in achieving. The overall feel of the spaces is of light, natural textures and colour which encourages the user to journey through the building taking a walk through fields and sky.

Take a look here for more background information on the project.

Architect : P+HS Architects
Contractor : Galliford Try
Client : St Andrews Healthcare Trust
Agent : Willis Newson