Projects Office completes healing space for young mental health patients

Projects Office completes healing space for young mental health patients

Projects Office designs carefully composed, functional and colourful healing space for young mental health patients in Edinburgh

London-based emerging architecture practice Projects Office has just completed a new space for young mental health patients in Edinburgh, Scotland. The project, called the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) Edinburgh, places the user at its heart, and takes a radically different approach from other schemes in its genre – treating the interior neither as an institutional healthcare setting, nor as a domestic environment.

Instead, Projects Office co-founders Bethan Kay, James Christian and Megan Charnley, have composed a design led by functionality, light and colourful architecture that encourages a sense of security and healing. 

When the young studio received the commission, the project outlined a unit that would bring together a number of existing services. But what started as a slightly smaller project soon grew, as ‘the scope of the original brief was increased and additional funds were raised’, explain the architects. This brand-new purpose-built facility is now situated at the city’s new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People. 

discussion and meeting booths in new colourful space for young mental health patients in Edinburgh by Projects Office

The design includes outpatient facilities for five- to 18-year-olds, as well as an inpatient arm for 12- to 18-year-olds. Aiming to a create a space that prioritises wellness and healing, Projects Office worked with the NHS team and consultant artist James Leadbitter to engage with patients, family members, professionals and the wider community in refining the concept. Bespoke details include flexible seating, different levels of privacy within which there is allowance for space to retreat, and an abstract coastal theme, a setting that emerged from the project consultations as a key one to promote good mental health.

Additionally, it was important to reflect that this space was warm and welcoming but not overly ‘homely’, stresses the team. This came as a direct response from the feedback the architects recieved during consultations (‘My anorexic daughter is sick; she needs to know this isn’t a holiday,’ said one patient’s family member), as a setting that feels too much like home might, in some cases, hinder treatment. 

‘It’s been a great privilege to work with an inspired NHS team and charity funders who were keen to embrace unconventional ideas,’ says Christian. ‘At a time of stretched NHS funding and increased demand for mental health services, we believe that good design is a powerful and cost-effective healing tool. We also believe that asking patients, staff and parents what they really need and want from healthcare spaces leads to richer, more useful spaces.’ §

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