From today, Children at Europe’s newest hospital, The Royal London, and where Skanska is the main contractor, are to benefit from the healing benefits of two stunning new spaces - an outdoorSkyGardenand an indoorAlicein Wonderland-style play area.
The areas aim to provide healing spaces for young patients that are a million miles away from the hospital ward in feel and atmosphere.
The million pound project is the result of a Royal Institute of British Architects competition to design two innovative play and garden spaces for the new Royal London’s Children’s Hospital that harness the healing power of art and play.
The indoor space was funded by charitable donations from insurers OdysseyRe, Newline Group, Advent and Riverstone (allFairfaxcompanies) facilitated by Barts and The London Charity, and the outdoor space was funded by charitable donations from Skanska.
Barts Health Children’s Group Director, Jane Hawdon, said: “The Activity Space is a unique play concept, providing important respite from treatment and medical intervention, for children and their families”.
The Activity Space, formally known as The Ann Riches Healing Space, has been designed by award-winning architects Cottrell and Vermeulen and designer Morag Myerscough, who worked together to create a uniquely vibrant, oversized living room, filled withAlicein Wonderland-scale objects.
There are supersized animals, ‘Twoo’ the wise owl perched on an oversized chair and ‘Eddie’ the gentle giant tiger lounging in front of a giant TV, with vibrant spinning tops as seating and cubes as building blocks.
Other features include an enormous neon lampshade that creates a disco space for dazzling interactive games and a gigantic storytelling chair. A television the size of a room allows children to enter and play with pioneering interactive games designed by digital art wizard Chris O’Shea. All combine to create a space a world away from the ward.
The other space is the new children’sSkyGarden, also designed by Cottrell and Vermeulen. A rooftop forest features a tepee, a sky forest and tree house with a wildlife sound installation by acclaimed BBC wildlife recorder Chris Watson, all under a sculptural canopy.
TheSkyGardenhas expansive views over the whole of eastLondonand beyond. For the first time patients and families will have access to a beautifully designed outdoor space and the powerful healing properties of nature, fresh air and the opportunity to ‘be somewhere else’.
Play specialists, teachers, occupational and physiotherapists will use the garden to enhance the treatment of young patients.
Richard Bill, Operations Manager for Building – Central and regions said: “Skanska feel privileged to have been able to contribute, both as contractor and sponsor, to such a unique project which will enhance the treatment and healing of young patients in such a creative way”.