Projects Office designs the interior of a mental health facility in Edinburgh

London studio Projects Office used seaside-inspired colors and imagery to create a cozy yet practical interior for a Mental Health at the Royal Hospital for Children and Adolescents in Edinburgh.


The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) facility is designed to feel non-institutional, so that patients feel comfortable, but also to look distinctly different from a home environment.

CAMHS facility is designed to make patients feel comfortable

The Project office team – led by architects Bethan Kay, James Christian and Megan Charnley – collaborated with art consultancy Ginkgo projects inside, imagining it as “a third space which is neither hospital nor home”, but rather has its own identity.

They developed this approach following a series of workshops and interviews with young patients, their parents and staff members.

These sessions, carried out with the help of artists James leadbitter, has helped architects understand many subtle details that can make a big difference to how patients feel in a space.

Lighthouse and skylight in the common lounges of the CAMHS Edinburgh Mental Health Unit
Common inpatient lounge features lighthouse-inspired den

For example, rooms are designed so that occupants can then easily personalize them, giving them a sense of ownership. But they can easily come back after patients are discharged, giving the next resident a clean slate.

“In an era of limited NHS funding and increased demand for mental health services, we believe that good design is a powerful and cost-effective healing tool,” said James Christian.

“We also believe that asking patients, staff and parents what they really need and want from healthcare spaces leads to richer and more useful spaces.”

Quiet area in the common living room of the CAMHS Edinburgh mental health unit
Colors and patterns are inspired by the seaside

The mental health unit includes outpatient services for 5 to 18 year olds and an inpatient unit for 12 to 18 year olds.

The designers found that the seaside was often mentioned as an environment that helps improve mental health, which is why Projects Office used it as a starting point for the design. Colors, patterns and patterns incorporate various seaside references.

Benches in the dining room at CAMHS Edinburgh
Banquettes in the dining room extend up to the ceiling to create more privacy

“We’ve taken a playful approach to our designs for artwork, while making sure to avoid the sometimes patronizing wall graphics that can appear in children’s hospitals,” Christian told Dezeen.

“Each graphic intervention reinforces the overall coastal theme, but a varied approach has been taken as to how they manifest themselves in the different spaces,” he explained.

“It ranges from simple maritime pendants that spell out the unit’s name in a TV room to a large lighthouse mural with a goal and targets, for ball games in the central garden.”

Lounge areas in common areas at CAMHS Edinburgh
Seating areas are integrated into the walls of several rooms

For the common areas, a major challenge was to offer a sense of security and privacy to all patients, especially those suffering from severe distress, without creating blind spots.

The designers tackled this problem with cushioned seating corners built into the walls, banquettes that extend to the ceiling, and a lighthouse-inspired den.

Room at CAMHS Edinburgh
Bedrooms include window seat with removable ottoman

“An array of levels of privacy and friendliness is used to create areas that range from common activity and friendly conversation to nooks and crannies that provide the opportunity for private conversation and retreat without feeling isolated from others. “said Christian.

All of this was done on a tight budget through the use of off-the-shelf, out-of-the-box elements. Standard hospital furniture was simply personalized, while custom furniture items were constructed from plain plywood.

Bedroom desk and shelving at CAMHS Edinburgh
Shelves and wall panels allow patients to personalize the space

A similar approach is found in bedrooms, although these spaces have a softer, more relaxed feel.

Playful shelves and large wall panels make it easy for patients to display their belongings, while a window seat incorporates a movable ottoman, creating a variety of different ways for families to sit together.

These two details help make the rooms look less like a hospital.

Lighthouse fresco at CAMHS Edinburgh
A lighthouse fresco in the garden courtyard creates play opportunities

The project was funded by Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity. Association CEO Roslyn Neely said the results exceeded expectations.

“Coming to CAMHS can be a very stressful time for children, youth and their families, so it was important to make sure that upon arrival they know they are in a safe place where they will be supported and valued. She said. noted.

“Ginkgo and Projects Office went above and beyond to ensure that children and young people were involved in the design and transformed the space from nude and clinical into bright, welcoming and suitable for children and young people with problems. mental health. “


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