Look North - Adele Howitt - Integrated Art Scheme 2008

18 Jun 2009

Art As Design Fabric in New Hospital…Oncology and Haematology Departments at Castle Hill Hospital, Cottingham, East Yorkshire Adele Howitt, Lead Artist

 The vision for the hospital was to create a physical environment designed around patients’ needs – a healing environment.  Art is seen as having a central role to play in achieving this objective and was therefore a key factor in the design process.  The new Oncology and Haematology Centre at the Castle Hill Hospital, Cottingham, East Yorkshire, includes an integral art scheme that meets, specifically, the non-institutional design objective for this healing environment.

Adele Howitt, Lead Artist, commissioned through Artlink (Hull) developed and designed the scheme in consultation with the Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Trust, HLM Architects (Sheffield) and Shepherds Construction Ltd.  Within the building schedule, Adele produced a scheme of context-specific art works that identified with the architectural and landscape design.   

The project began in November 2006.  The integral art scheme developed with the help and advice of the Trust staff and patient groups.  The art as fabric in the building at Castle Hill Cancer Centre has been selected based on the feelings evoked when experiencing nature.  It works hand in hand with the interior design, which maximises natural light/ventilation and incorporates clear way finding.  The external spaces create a sense of welcome, calm, relaxation, life and wellness, which is reflected in the artwork.  Art within healthcare can be subtler than simply a painting or sculpture. The scheme runs throughout the hospital affecting all seventeen reception desks / nurses bases, the health centre and cafe glazed screens, the main entrance reception, directional signage and manifestations, and, ceilings in the Linac radiation treatment suites.

Integral Art
The Health Centre within the main entrance, level 1, will provide the client with access to therapy, client groups and general healing activities.   The glazed screen, which divides the Health Centre from the main entrance waiting area, has become an art feature.  Adele’s theme of ‘water’ (the essence of life) influences the form, colour and texture of the twelve panels.   The kiln-formed glass also glazes the adjacent Café’s six-panelled screen.  The patterned texture holds a series of lenses that gently wave a continuing line extending through each panel, and across the two screens.  The light interacts with the panels to produce diffused colours of the environment.  This enhances further the stunning glass through emanating the calming effect of gently moving water.  The ceramic mural entitled ‘Reflections’ extends these themes.  The relief set of 55 tiles is installed on the wall behind the main reception desk, signifying the point of contact for the visitor.  The comforting and repetitive wave found on the damp beaches which feature significantly along the beaches in East Yorkshire and the Humber region, influences this design.  The glaze has the quality of organic crystal effects with turquoises, greens and striking natural colours.  

To reach the Linac and Radiotherapy treatment suites on level 1, patients will walk past themed courtyards, exhibitions, and will be greeted at the reception desks with large images inspired by the planting scheme.  Each treatment suite has a variety of images fixed as luminaires in each ceiling, presenting a window-like appearance.  As patients lay down for their treatment, they are presented with calming blue skies and tree-tops in summertime.  The hospital way-finding system is enhanced through the addition of printed imagery onto a variety of architectural surfaces.  These images are of flowers and foliage found within the landscape scheme.   Each level has a specific image, three in total, which is printed onto the manifestations (health and safety requirements to all the glazed screens above 1000mm in height) and the directional signage accordingly. For example, the Echinops flower is the Level 1 specific image.   

The 17 reception desk and nurse bases include unique photographic screens; dimensions up to 2000mm x 600mm.  In consultation with HLM Landscape Architect, Adele photographed these plants prior to installation at the local Bishop Burton Horticultural College. The image on each desk screen reflects the specific plants from the scheme in the nearest adjacent courtyard or landscaped area.

Adele recruited a range of exceptional artists and designers from various disciplines to produce further elements of the scheme.  The Jeweller, Alice Highet, has designed the hanging mobile situated in the main entrance.  Entitled ‘Momentum’, the playful feature has specific colourful organic shapes influenced by sycamore seeds.  Alice’s main inspiration is taken from nature including organic cellular structures such as seeds, honeycomb and leaves. These elements key into the overall brief to introduce the ‘outside-inside’ and are influential in the creation of this hanging sculpture.

The Oncology and Haematology departments are connected to the main hospital via the link corridor.   Muralist, Imogen Slater, has produced a design for the 46m underground section.  Inspired by the ‘Yorkshire Village’ architectural scheme, the graphic representation is a panorama following the seasons indicated by very subtle elemental associations.  This is reflected in the symmetry with brightly coloured blossom trees, one of the features in the landscape scheme, seen at both ends of the underground link corridor.  Entitled, ‘Yorkshire Seasons’, the design incorporates distinctive silhouettes and stylised representations of landmarks found within the Yorkshire cancer care network region.  

The opening exhibition (installation in September), entitled ‘Moving On’, features a detailed photographic record of the architectural details and grounds at the Princess Royal Hospital, East Hull.   Maria Allen is the resident photographer commissioned to document these Hospital facilities before the move to the new building at Castle Hill.  When the Princess Royal Hospital was opened in 1931, it was an eventful occasion for the Humber region.  The style and history of the building is captured within the photographs, adding nostalgia alongside a final farewell to a hospital that is at the end of its operational life.  This exhibition will be installed along the main street corridor, level 1, in the new hospital for one year.

Furniture Designer Tom Pearman, has produced a custom design to enhance 24 notice boards across patient waiting areas throughout the hospital.  Notice boards always feature heavily within a hospital build, presenting a great opportunity for integral artwork.  Tom is also commissioned to produce two display cabinets for the link corridor ‘nodes’ opposite the Physics and Pathology departments. The ‘nodes’ are engineered junctions within the architecture to allow the corridor to directly link from the new hospital to the existing Castle Hill Hospital.  The design brief is to produce two cabinets of museum quality in which to exhibit the historical collection of Physics equipment, as a curious and fascinating collection to entice further investigation. The cabinets are predominately glass with significant prints of associated graphics.  

What is most unusual is that Adele will remain resident at the centre into occupation.  This will enable her to assess how the art is contributing and make recommendations for changes or additional pieces. 
‘We are finally reaching a point in healthcare design when art and architecture can work hand in hand.  In my view, this is excellent news for patients, visitors to hospitals and staff’.  Neil Orpwood, Associate, HLMAD Ltd. (www.hlmarchitects.com)


Adele Howitt
Lead Artist