Collaborative practices: artists and architects 20th June 2012

Another full-house for the Architects for Health’s collaborative practices showcase on the 20th June, the first event to be hosted within the new Great Ormond Street Hospital’s Morgan Stanley Clinical Building “Lagoon staff space”, part of the Mittal Children’s Medical Centre.

Over 70 attendees, participated in this special event, as part of London Arts for Health Forum’s “Creativity and Well-being week”. AfH hosted an energising evening of presentations and discussions focussing on collaborative partnerships.

Following brief guided tours for over 50  AfH members and guests, thanks goes to Great Ormond Street and Lewellyn Davies Yeang representatives, for successfully herding the four troupes around the first phase of this impressive facility.

The evening started with a “word from our sponsors”, Hitch Mylius. It was great to hear from an award winning British manufacturer, striving to create beautiful contemporary upholstered furniture for use within healthcare settings. Guests were invited to test out their healthcare range of chairs, showcased within many familiar schemes including ACAD and the Evelina.

Robert Etchell and Mark Gage, of Llewelyn Davies Yeang, provided an overview of the design and delivery of the Mittal Children’s Medical Centre, first phase. This “deep green” medical building sets a new benchmark in Children’s Hospital design. Successful collaboration, staying power, commitment and talent, were all evident and became the recurring themes of the evening.

Artist Kate Blee’s and Claudia Bloom’s (Avanti Architects), “from earth to sky” presentation on the Learning Resource Centre and Pathology Building at Southmead Hospital, demonstrated the benefits of architect and artist collaborative working. The sheer depth and detail of the work which goes into generating unique and location specific artwork was humbling. The introduction of a single red tile amongst the work titled “one in a million” was an act of genius, as the conclusion to the journey and understanding of the work within, which was described as “a hive of activity”. It really was a tale of “where two worlds collide”, the determined artist and architect, focussed on specific elements, working alongside an equally determined contractor constructing the building, culminating in “joyful” partnership working sealed with a mars bar.

Artist Julia Ridge and Architect Julia Dwyer, “little and large” presentation showcasing the “large” as North Middlesex PFI with the “little” as Homerton Hospital’s Mother and Baby unit. They seemed to understand the “very fast or very slow” PFI culture instantly, when delivering the media wall and lift lobby storyboards at North Middlesex Hospital new build PFI. Story’s/Stories/Storeys of “shed man public engagement”, “social wall-paper” and an injection of humour, underpinned the delivery of some very engaging pieces, which were all about communication and localism. For me the line of “120 languages, 120 ways to say hello” captured the spirit of their approach and collaboration. My one disappointment was in hearing of the oldest tree on the Homerton Hospital site that the line “we saved it from chipping” was expanded to “we saved it from chipping, by having it milled on site”. Having said that it was unclear whether it was standing in the way of the development, but it’s timber was used to create a unique and very relevant piece of artwork based on measurement. Little and Large Presentation.

Artist Heather Barnett and Poet Will Holloway, saved the best to last with their presentation simply titled “flow”, telling the story of the art within the new Chemotherapy unit in the Guy’s Hospital tower working with Greenhill Jenner. I took the title to be advice i.e., to go with the flow and see what develops when engaging in consultation and artistic endeavour, be playful “let it flow”. The opening line of “95% of art in architecture is about beauty but Will and Heather have moved away from that”, caught our attention and desire to hear more. Once again the depth of thought, the introduction of a sense of daring, humour and of pushing boundaries pervaded their work. The “repeat viewing appeal” reference to their “atlas of journeys” was an understatement, it was fascinating, clever, though-provoking and “beauty may be in the eye of the beholder” but I thought it was beautiful for all those reasons.

To be treated to the level of detail and hear about “the journey”, “the process” as well as admire the end product, made for a truly inspirational evening

Susan Francis summarised the evening’s presentations and discussions “as a bringing together of art in it’s widest sense and architecture, hosting a creative process within technical necessities. It was an inspiration to see such imagination and creativity impacting on spaces and ultimately on us. ”

Lastly we would like to thank our hosts, Jo Trussler (GOSH clinical planner) and Victoria Jones (GOSH Head of GO create), for supporting the event and making us all feel so welcome.



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