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

Tarkett ‘Floor Is The New Playground’ part 2

As promised here is the second instalment to the ‘Floor Is The New Playground’ challenge hosted by Tarkett.

Just a quick recap;

The premise of the competition or shall we say challenge was that designers would submit their designs in order to remain on top of the pile. As I played with the patterns and submitting; one other designer’s name kept popping up; René Wissinck (Follow on Twitter with @AtelierArgos) from Atelier Argos based in the Netherlands.

This was going international. Via Twitter we started to exchange ideas and encouragement and then – I would argue as all designers like to do – decided that here lay an opportunity to collaborate. Isn’t that a great vindication of what social media can do to bring people together.

René suggested that one of us could start a pattern, screenshot it and send it to the other to then complete and submit. A sort of graphic game of tag if you like. Now we’re talking design collaboration. Another vista of infinite opportunity opens up.

So René and myself decided to take the game up to a new level. We each set eachother a challenge by developing a pattern and then sending just a portion of the design to eachother. The aim was we would then both complete a design and compare the results.

Not content with that we then decided to start put the patterns into 3D models so as to render the patterns into flooring designs. By this point we were beginning to see how the quick online game could be turned into a practical tool for flooring design.

René agreed to do the design ‘heavy lifting’ and worked hard to generate the model and visuals. Naturally he took it a step further and created a complete environment – the new virtual ‘Floor Is The New Playground’ exhibition hall.

Into this space he assembled many of the designs that we had both developed. Some were placed on the floor whilst others became part of a virtual exhibition.

So where do we go from here?

Well the game brought myself and René together as designers and we’ve really enjoyed the collaboration. Wouldn’t it be great if we could take it even further into an actual project collaboration.

FITNP virtual exhibition

FITNP virtual exhibition

FITNP virtual exhibition

FITNP virtual exhibition

Cantoo is Tarkett’s ‘Floor is the new Playground’ winner

Recently Tarkett launched their ‘Floor is the new Playground’ (http://bit.ly/1X6OzEs) online competition. This was a call to architects and designers to show their creativity and design their own flooring pattern using a rather nifty browser app that allowed you to arrange floor tiles in a pattern and then submit the resulting design.

Well what’s a designer to do in these circumstances but answer the call and take up the challenge!

My initial patterns were a little tentative. Then the creative brain kicked in as I realised that the app allowed tons of freedom to play with pattern making. Quite apart from being able to change the colours of tiles, rotate and duplicate; you could also cut them up into new shapes and then later randomize the pattern with pre-set mirror and flip type actions. A world of endless possibilities opened up. Further patterns were submitted. Then the bug really kicked in…. having slavishly arranged the tiles by locking them next to eachother I noticed that you could overlap them to create even more configurations. This time even more pleasingly random.

The premise of the competition or shall we say challenge was that designers would submit their designs in order to remain on top of the pile. As I played with the patterns and submitting; one other designer’s name kept popping up; René Wissinck from Atelier Argos based in the Netherlands. This was going international. Via Twitter we started to exchange ideas and encouragement and then – I would argue as all designers like to do – decided that here lay an opportunity to collaborate. Isn’t that a great vindication of what social media can do to bring people together.

René suggested that one of us could start a pattern, screenshot it and send it to the other to then complete and submit. A sort of graphic game of tag if you like. Now we’re talking design collaboration. Another vista of infinite opportunity opens up.

We’ll let you know how we get on.

Oh a postscript – Tarkett announced a winning design for the competition and incredibly it was Cantoo. How fantastic is that!

The judges comments were as follows;

It has this mix of the classic and contemporary at the same time. The color mix is not too contrasted, but it is really well balanced. There is something interesting in the way we sort of recognize patterns within the patterns. Something of cement tiles, yet not completely. Finally, we recognize in this layout something of contemporary art. It could be a cubic or abstract painting…by Klee or Delaunay. The layout is an interrogation of what defines simplicity (we can talk about just triangles) and complexity (intricate arrangements). And in conclusion it looks like this is the kind of pattern you would never get tired of.

tarkett-winning-pattern

Floor is the new Playground

tarkett-lvt4

tarkett-lvt6

tarkett-lvt7a

tarkett-lvt9

Great feedback on engagement sessions

engage-wshop

We recently ran some engagement sessions for a large CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) scheme that we’re working on.

Here’s some lovely feedback we received from a senior member of staff;

“The latest service user art workshops took place on 14th – 16th October. Eric Klein Velderman facilitated the workshops with service users in order to develop the final designs for the new building through consultation and creative engagement with our service users. These designs included a number of integrated and graphic based artworks for the ward dining rooms, ward games rooms, the sports hall, education & therapy entrance,  café, main entrance and each ward staff base and ward entrance.

The workshops saw up to 30 service users taking part each day across all units within the Adolescent Pathway. There were very positive reactions  from the service users when Eric showed them the overall scheme with comments such as “That’s going to be wicked” and “That’s cool that we’ll have the same staff (!), what will the bedrooms look like?”

Eric skilfully managed to tailor each workshop according to the different abilities & needs of the young people, grading and selecting activities depending on cognitive abilities, their motor skills and communication abilities. He used a variety of teaching approaches including demonstration, modelling, verbal instructions, physical and verbal prompts in order for the young people to be successful and engage in the activity to complete an end product. He introduced all the workshops, explaining the aim of the workshops and putting this into the wider context of the overall art plan for the new building. This sparked enthusiasm for the project from both the staff and young people.

He tailored his communication skills to the needs of the young people; for example when working with the autistic population, simplifying instructions given and planning 3 step tasks where there was immediate cause and effect. He engaged brilliantly with the service users, engaging and consulting with their ideas, expanding on their ideas and praising them throughout. He demonstrated excellent therapeutic use of self in his approach to engage service users, responding with humour to young people who engaged in playful ‘banter’ but with others being very gentle, quiet and calm to put the young people at ease”.

 

 

 

Sellincourt Refurbishment – Phase One Summer 2015

Sellincourt Primary refurb

Now that the dust has settled we thought it would be useful to report on the Sellincourt Primary refurbishment project.

More on the scheme can be found here

The design intent was to develop an interior scheme that could be deployed throughout the main school building and possibly to Early Years in a phased programme of works. Part of the initial design consultancy time was used to develop an overall scheme for decorations which could be rolled out across the school as and when funds became available.

The building is a standard Victorian period school structure circa 1907 with interesting original features many of which have been preserved despite later modifications. It would be fair to say that the building has suffered in recent years from some unsympathetic building works which have cloaked, over-sailed and in some cases destroyed original features. There was thus the need for some TLC to reveal the architecture and bring the building back to an environment fit for learning.

The first phase of works was scheduled for Summer 2015 during the 6 week holiday period. The works included for most of the ground floor rooms with some exceptions and in particular a complete refurbishment of the two Year 1 classrooms.

The critical drivers for this first phase was to deliver a scheme that was on budget, on time and inspirational for staff and pupils when they returned.

It was an intensive building programme and we learnt quite a few lessons. The positives;

  • We implemented weekly 2-3 hour progress meetings which were used to review and report on activities. Whilst a big time commitment these were vital to monitor and catch and mitigate issues.
  • An HSE / general project file was assembled pre- commencement which was a useful reference during the scheme. This will be useful for future works.
  • The appointment of Wandsworth Building Services was absolutely the right choice. The team were diligent, efficient and provided a superb service throughout the works period. A special mention must be made for our Site Agent without whom the programme targets might have been severely challenged.
  • Refurbishment is a never ending journey – issues were uncovered during the works which had a negative knock on effect on the budget; some issues were parked to be addressed in the future.
  • Demolitions were in general the simplest part of the works, making good afterwards required care and sometimes a light touch. For instance we scraped back loose paintwork on the radiators and repainted due to budgetary concerns; long term it might be better to refurbish the radiators properly and strip back to cast iron.
  • The Year 1 classrooms were a great success. Removing the acoustic panelling, adding a suspended ceiling and new lighting have been transformative.
  • The stripped parquet flooring in the East Hall show what can be achieved when we tackle the main hall. The parquet which is approximately 100 years old now looks like new. It’s a highly valuable floor finish.
  • The removal of the original built in cupboards (a really difficult aesthetic decision – were we being vandals here) and re-decorations of the main hall have made a big difference.
  • The building works have given us a good benchmark of which contractors/ sub contractors should be retained for future works.
  • The resulting finish. Its transformed the Ground Floor spaces, rationalised circulation and made better use of rooms.

And the negatives or shall we say challenges!

  • There was a lot of legacy wiring, equipment and evidence of patched up jobs which needed to be resolved before good progress could be made.
  • We had to omit the Lobby partition works due to the combination of a high quotation and running out of time to seek alternatives. Next time we will need a much longer run up (say plans in place 2 months ahead of work start) to the building programme to avoid being penalised with inflated costs.
  • A building works programme like this has a high impact and demand on individuals’ time. Much more than you think!

So that was the first phase completed. We’ve had a little bit of snagging, a short break and now we’re looking to raise the funds for Summer 2016 Phase 2. The journey continues …