Archive

Design

While investigating Guy’s Hospital in the London Bridge area I came across everything you might expect to find in a hospital. A bustling, noisy entrance area. A reception desk. A variety of people waiting patiently or pacing around, or queuing for coffee, or hugging loved ones. Maps and information boards with the locations of different wards and departments. Long hallways artificially lit with trolley-or-wheelchair bound patients being pushed by porters.

I also discovered other elements to this tower that surprised me. Some were in plain sight; some took a bit of exploring to locate.

coinbox

This creepy looking thing was just loitering at the back of the main ground floor entrance area of the hospital. It’s an art installation by Tim Hunkin with quite a political theme (from the mouth of its creator, “I left it subtle, but the idea of the insatiable patient and the bottomless pit of NHS funding are there for anyone that likes analysing stuff”). Political stance aside, it’s a visually striking piece of work that fascinated me on my first visit. I drew it, I took videos, I photographed it.

coinbox4

coinbox sequence

For more information on the installation see http://www.timhunkin.com/a101_guy%27s_collecting_box.htm

piano1

piano2

In two of the atriums dotted around the hospital, I found pianos. I never quite found out their purpose. At a guess, I would think they are there for the free use of the public, the patients, visitors – any hospital users. On several occasions as I passed by I heard the tones of a piano being played, which when walking down a hospital corridor can be quite a surreal experience. Upon investigation, there were what seemed to me members of the public, sat playing peacefully. Every now and then someone might stop and listen, but generally life just carried on around them. It gave me ideas of grand orchestral performances taking part within the hospital to lift spirits.

A quick collage - a piano in the atrium, greeting patients as they enter with soothing scales.

A quick collage – a piano in the atrium, greeting patients as they enter with soothing scales.

museum

I stopped at a random intersection within the hospital, turned my head to the left and found a dozen display cases and information boards. Upon closer inspection I realised it was a miniature museum, informing of the history of Guy’s and St. Thomas, and the hospital itself. There were old medical instruments on display, as well as former plans and sections of the original hospital building. This might not seem unexpected, as the London Bridge area has a rich history and has undergone a lot of change during the last two, three hundred years. But in a hospital of all places, I thought it was a nice touch and was surprised to see it here.

museum3

Notice the hand...

Notice the hand…

There’s nothing inherently strange about a hospital having a basement. What I found unexpected was being able to see this area, and to experience a very different hospital environment. Dingy corridors, quiet and (generally) a bit untidy. Certainly didn’t seem like a typical hospital environment and was actually quite intimidating being down there. I felt like I was going to be asked to leave if anyone spotted me down there. It’s not that it was off limits, and there are some wards down there. But the contrast to the floors above unsettled me somewhat. So it gave me ideas to give more unexpected surprises to unsuspecting, wandering patients…

Admit it, you'd freak if you saw her down here

Admit it, you’d freak if you saw her down here

lecture

The last mention for the unexpected discoveries found was a lecture theatre. Now Guy’s Hospital is a teaching hospital, so you would expect there to be medical students to be seen around the hospital, and there are several floors of the tower dedicated to student research, teachings and floor 24 contains a student cafe, lockers and chill rooms. What made this discovery fascinating was that it was on the very top floor, the 30th floor of the hospital. It was also out of bounds to all non-students of Kings College London (ssssh). I found this a great shame – as it meant the vast majority of people using the hospital would never get to see views like the one below, of the London Bridge area. You can see the base of the towering Shard, London Bridge station, the River Thames and Tower Bridge in the distance. It gave me a plethora of ideas to really open up the hospital, to take advantage of these unique and breathtaking conditions.

view

IMG_8870

Situated in the bustling London Bridge area, Guy’s Hospital is an NHS teaching hospital and contains Guy’s Tower, the tallest hospital building in Europe. Despite this the Shard towers over less than one hundred metres away. My third year project was situated in the hospital, and I spent hours within the hospital. Getting a feel for the conditions, the mood, the lightning, the noises, the space.

Floor upon floor of near identical lobbies where patients, doctors and students wait for lifts.

Floor upon floor of near identical lobbies where patients, doctors and students wait for lifts.

Or there are the stairs for the more active, or those wanting a bit of peace.

Or there are the stairs for the more active, or those wanting a bit of peace.

In the centre of the tower there is little natural light. The humming artificial lights emit a sickly glare.

In the centre of the tower there is little natural light. The humming artificial lights emit a sickly glare.

The waiting rooms. Where patients spend the majority  of their time. Inspiring...

The waiting rooms. Where patients spend the majority of their time. Inspiring…

The usual waiting room fare. A table with old magazines and various leaflets.

The usual waiting room fare. A table with old magazines and various leaflets.

The views of London could be used to great effect. Patients might appreciate the views more than a handful of disintegrating papers.

The views of London could be used to great effect. Patients might appreciate the views more than a handful of disintegrating papers.

So you might have guessed I wasn’t hugely impressed with the conditions within the hospital. If you’re in a hospital, chances are you won’t be in a great frame of mind. Be it as a patient, worried about that lump in your throat, or a visitor, hoping your relative pulls through. You could be a student, stressed, overworked and hurrying to the next lecture. A doctor who has to tell his patient the surgery wasn’t successful. Or a cleaner going to mop up the sick from the children’s ward for the second time this morning.

Ok, a very negative and pessimistic view. It won’t always be like this. But I think given this hospital’s unique situation (it’s nearly 500 flipping feet tall) the scope and possibility for creating spaces that push the programme of ‘hospital’ to new heights is an interesting concept. It was the driver behind the whole project last year. I aim to post some pieces of work from this project in particular over the next few months. Some of it still interests me, and should also help to keep the blog active while I’m busy reading and writing.

I was going through a tonne of my old architecture work, deciding what to keep and what can be deleted (most of it…) and I came across some interesting work I did for a project based in and around Guy’s Hospital in the London Bridge area.

Brutalist revamp of Guy's Tower. The tallest hospital building in Europe.

Brutalist revamp of Guy’s Tower. The tallest hospital building in Europe.

The project itself wasn’t brilliant but in the build up I created some conceptual collages. I can’t remember why or for what reason – the actual project was to open up the rigid, internalised layout of the hospital tower to create new spaces and alternative programs. Lifting the stuffy mood of injury, pain and death to take advantage of the superb views of London while giving both patients and visitors reasons to forget about their health concerns. Something like that.

Anyway, the collages I created have very little to do with that description, but they interest me now far more than the rest of the project. It struck me as a sort of dystopian scenario, and having read novels such as Brave New World, 1984, even The Road recently, they sparked some imagination into my mind.

Thinking about it now, I believe I was speculating on the risks of making hospitals into more public spaces, and the idea of altering their use into something that could benefit the whole community. While I wanted to open up the hospital to family and friends of the hospital patients, here I show what could be identified as a worse case scenario. Perhaps the NHS becomes greedy and starts the immoral practice of allowing the paying public entry to the hospital to observe operations or surgeries, unknown to the anaesthetised patients.

The public watch an open surgery session. The patient will wake up with no idea there was an audience present.

The public watch an open surgery session. The patient will wake up with no idea there was an audience present.

Queues span along the streets for the latest London attraction, but this being a hospital, entry becomes similar to military checkpoints where the public are stripped down, decontaminated and any media devices such as phones or laptops confiscated upon entry.

Bored of chain restaurants and gastropubs the citizens of London crowd to see new, morbid attractions.

Bored of chain restaurants and gastropubs the citizens of London crowd to see new, morbid attractions.

Or maybe these ideas were the result of a lack of sleep. Another night / early morning spent staring blankly at my computer screen with caffeine coursing through my veins.

I’ve set up a tumblr.

I wanted another blog which displays more visual images, something I can perhaps take a bit less seriously than this one (yeah because this blog is so serious). With this blog, I like to take care and effort before putting posts up, and this can lead to days and weeks without posts. This tumblr will allow me to post content at a quicker rate. I’m planning to use it for work I’ve done previously, work i’m doing now but mostly anything that inspires me or I find that motivates me.

The nature of tumblr is much more visual with photographs, videos, gifs and art being shared, liked and reblogged. I feel that my wordy, more analytical posts on wordpress and the more artistic, design based posts I will be liking and reblogging on tumblr are best kept separate. There will be times where something I’ve posted on wordpress I will also share on tumblr (and vice versa), if I feel it’s relevant or I’m really happy with it. Or (more likely) if content is starting to dry up on this page, which has happened in the past.

So generally the tumblr will keep a steady stream of more graphical content, separate from this blog.

A conceptual model for a third year architecture project, set in and around Guy's Hospital in London Bridge.

A conceptual model for a third year architecture project, set in and around Guy’s Hospital in London Bridge.

I’ve also started using Pinterest again. The aim is to keep these sites (both tumblr and Pinterest) as active, if not more so, than this blog, pinning and reblogging anything I find remotely interesting or useful to me.

I didn’t really get the point of Pinterest, but I’ve given it another chance and it’s actually pretty useful. You can search for any images and if you like them, you can pin them to keep them saved and available for your friends and followers to view. You can then start building up pinboards where all pinned images share a common theme. For example I’ve got boards for various artwork, digital media, graphic design etc. Simon Stahlenberg is an artist whose work caught my eye a few months back and has wonderfully captured the present day with brushes of alien technology in Corel Painter.

I want to keep posts on this blog meaningful. The odd update every now and then is fine, but I want most of the content here to be detailed and worthwhile. tumblr and Pinterest on the other hand are much quicker ways to show off things you think are pretty cool or that inspire you. There may even be some original content I’ll share here and repost on tumblr. I’ve added links to the sites mentioned in this post in the blogroll menu on the right of this blog.