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A hospital. Boundaries are present everywhere, but in a hospital they hold particular importance. To prevent the spread of bacterial infections, to give patients privacy and respect, to hold documents with personal information, to allow doctors, researchers and students to work in peace.

What stops me from accessing these areas of the hospital? How far can I infiltrate the hospital before a locked door or security forces me to go back? These were the questions that interested me on my first few visits to Guy’s Hospital.

Firstly. Any member of the public is able to get in one of the elevators on the ground floor, ride it to the top and marvel at the views from the 30th floor. Able; as in there are no locked doors, or key-codes, or security guards (not in the lift lobbies anyway)

But. If you are caught up here, as a member of the public, you will be asked to leave.

So these areas were complex. Physically, they were accessible. They were however, restricted areas. For example, the 30th floor was for students of King’s College London only, and there were signs stating this. Up here was their lecture theatre – it would not do for members of the public to bumble in mid-lecture. But there was no one guarding the door demanding ID badges, or retinal scanners, or voice recognition security. Anybody is free to wander in and take a ride to most of the floors. Whether or not they should, is the question.

    final map A0           

A rather simplistic map I drew, to start investigating certain areas of the hospital. I only included a small sample of floors, as including all 30 would have been too long a task. Here, the purpose was to graphically portray space and boundaries within the hospital. Who was using this space? Who could access this space? Who was this space actually intended for? What boundaries were in place to stop one from reaching this space?

And of course, I had to document as much as I could. Below are some photographs that captured my ideas of boundaries, areas that were reachable but not supposed to be seen, and a few shots of elements that just caught my imagination.

As I ascended I noticed more doorways that were blocked off and restricted to me. Some gave little explanation as to why they were off limits.

As I ascended I noticed more doorways that were blocked off and restricted to me. Some gave little explanation as to why they were off limits.

No patients allowed. Welding? An area for builders or site workers only?

No patients allowed. Welding? An area for builders or site workers only?

A Security Notice.

Would a visitor bother going all the way back down to reception to sign in, if they were already on floor 16?

Ho

Straight ahead for Floor 18! Unless you are unauthorised.

Locked in. Old supplies?

Locked in. Old supplies?

Raz's leaving do. Wish I could have made it.

Raz’s retirement do. Wish I could have made it.

Staff and Students only.

Staff and Students only. Door would only open by using a key-code lock.

Low ceiling, creepy looking old door. Didn't stay here long.

Low ceiling, creepy looking old door. Didn’t stay here long.

Uh oh

Phew. Good thing I’m not a patient.

I got the feeling that parts of the upper floor were only used by a handful of people.

I got the feeling that parts of the upper floor were only used and experienced by a handful of people.

An old shaft, presumably for fire

An old shaft, presumably for fire safety. Hasn’t been used in a while by the looks of it.

20 seconds in the lift and I found myself up here.

20 seconds in the lift and I found myself up here.

Gett

Doors to the lift maintenance for the elevators in Guy’s Tower. 

As high as I could go.

As high as I could go.

Fine by me, as it was starting to get a little too high for my liking.

Fine by me, as it was starting to get a little too high for my liking.

All of the above images were captured on a Saturday afternoon. As such, the dental department on floors 18-27 was closed and were empty, with the exception of one or two cleaners. It was exhilarating and suspenseful to experience the hospital in this semi-awake state. Kinda creepy too.

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.