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This will be my last post on the Guy’s Hospital project. One last look before I finally put it all to bed. From Unexpected Findings to sneaking around forbidden areas to taking in the whole London Bridge surrounding site to building upon those ideas to make the hospital a better place to be – hell, even speculating on a strange dystopian future for the hospital. I’ve spent far more time going back and sharing this project than I expected.

Experimenting with facades and external spaces with 3D modelling in Vectorworks

Experimenting with facades and external spaces with 3D modelling in Vectorworks

Alongside all the portfolio work, the drawings, the photography and the models created for the final submission I also produced a 120 page A5 booklet, filled with drawings and thoughts I’d scribbled down and diagrams and photographs I’d found during the six month project. I thought I’d share a (very) small sample of my thought processes, my inspirations, and various bits and pieces. A lot of which I’d completely forgotten about.

Technical sections going into more detail on how these proposals would actually be built

Technical sections going into more detail on how these proposals would actually be built

The hospital was a fascinating place and I really don’t think I could have picked a better site. It had a bit of everything. A little unorthodox at first but once you started to think outside the box the opportunities were there. In all honesty I didn’t do the site justice; the ideas were in place, and over time they’ve held up, but it all could have been executed with more finesse and detail. It’s easy to say that now. But at the time I just wanted the course to be over – I was working impossibly hard knowing that I was only ever going to scrape through the year.

I managed to obtain old photographs and diagrams of when the tower was originally constructed

I managed to obtain old photographs and diagrams of when the tower was originally constructed

Comparing areas within the hospital; then and now.

Comparing areas within the hospital; then and now.

Throughout the years I kept my eyes open for projects that inspired me, and for aspects which I could bring into my own work

Throughout the years I kept my eyes open for projects that inspired me, and for aspects which I could bring into my own work

I was miserable throughout most of this project and sick of the sight of this bloody hospital. The pressure of deadlines, the humiliation of bad feedback in front of your peers, being torn apart before the eyes of a watching room, days without sleep, caffeine overdoses. I’ve enjoyed revisiting the project without those pressures, and realising how lucky I was, to visit and spend time in these places, to work with some amazing people, receive feedback and support from some fantastic tutors. I’m rambling, but yeah – as much as I suffered during my time as an architecture student, I’m glad to have experienced it all.

© Nicholas J. Parr, 2015

model 2

There have been several posts now on my exploration and findings within Guy’s Hospital and the surrounding area. The theories, programs and ideas that I created on the basis of that initial research has been discussed somewhat, but in terms of final drawings and solutions to the problems I identified the project has been lacking. In this post I want to give a glimpse into some of the work and ideas I put forward to make the hospital a better place.

Epiphytic architecture

The idea of creating and almost growing self contained programs of space that hang off the pre-existing structure of Guy’s Hospital was a strong and favourite one, right from the start. I remember describing them to my tutor during a crit as parasitic, in the way they cling to the structure and rely on it for support. I was soon shot down for this phrase, and rightly so. A parasite is something that takes from a larger organism but doesn’t give anything back – it works at the detriment of the host creature. The word that I was suggested to use was ‘epiphyte’, a term typically used to describe a plant that grows harmlessly on another plant, and thus I began to use the term ‘epiphytic architecture’ when describing these additional spaces. I wanted them, if anything, to grow and exist to the benefit, not detriment, of the hospital.

Working models demonstrating the existing structure of the tower, encouraging new and additional spaces to grow upon it. Spaces such as hostels (for family members of patients to stay close to their loved ones), a diverse, multi floor waiting room model 3(the smaller waiting rooms are merged into one flowing space that spans multiple floors and comes out of the main tower to give freedom and reduce anxiety while waiting) and walkways which come out of and back into the hospital, providing fresh air, an escape of the oppressive walls of the hospital as well as fantastic views of London.

The models were very conceptual, and gave me a flexibility to constantly change them, whether that be in shape, material, position, on the tower. I kept asking questions, and in this way the models helped me a lot. For example, I used ripped up pieces of masking tape to simulate hanging vines and green walls. Thin pieces of MDF held in place by copper rods, to represent moveable facades. Flexible walkways of card that wrap around the main structure of the tower, which itself I replicated using a tall wooden plinth.

model 2 pics sheet

The Hub; a place to wait in comfort and peace. Forget you are in a hospital.

hub development 2

Through my site visits and studying of existing plans and sections from the architects behind the recent recladding project Penoyre & Prasad, I noticed that the 18th and 19th floor were different – they had a kind of double space between each floor, very high ceilings, and this was due to the lift access points. I wanted to take advantage of this expanded space above the heads of patients. It was to become The Hub, an expansive open space halfway up Guy’s Tower, which offered spectacular views of the surrounding area, jutting in and out of the existing parameters of the building, with plenty of freedom yet also privacy, and green walls hanging down to give a feeling of being in a floating garden.

waiting room conceptual2

model pics 1.1 sheet

Final Section

The final section, when printed, was over two metres tall. Scaled 1:50, it was a huge task. Parts were left unfinished in order to show the spread of changes across the existing hospital. It was a mixed media piece; most of the section was done in Vectorworks, a CAD software. Some of the instalments were drawn by hand and copied or scanned into place, and it was finished off with atmosphere and occupation. In hindsight it perhaps would have been beneficial to show larger sections of each program. This would have given more detail but lost a sense of wholeness – being a long, all-in-one section keeps the scale of this project at the forefront. The project was met with mixed reviews at the end of the year. The theory and ambition was praised but ultimately there was not enough conviction and finesse in the final drawings and representations.

long section

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.