When the new Royal Papworth Hospital opened to its first patients just a couple of months ago, few would have realised their wellness journey would begin even before they stepped foot through the door.
Appointed as consultant artist by lead architects, HOK International; Adam Ball has created a powerful installation aimed at both welcoming patients and staff to the hospital and, simultaneously, creating a positive and life-affirming atmosphere from the moment they arrive.
His permanent art installation - the largest he has ever created - is an integral part of the building’s design and has assisted the architects in realising their goal of providing visitors with a positive, easy-to-navigate environment that helps to reduce stress and anxiety.
The hospital’s new 310-bed home on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus is set to become one of the world’s-leading research hubs for science and healthcare.
And its design embraces Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust’s ambition to thrive as one of the largest specialist cardiothoracic centres in Europe, welcoming the community with a striking architectural form that reflects the park-like setting.
Over the last eight years Ball worked closely with HOK to create a 3m x 16m light installation that forms the exterior wall of the hospital next to the main entrance.
Entitled, Until the day you feel good, the work was initially created from white fabric, hand-cut with surgical scalpels in 11 sections.
It was then photographed before being screen-printed onto glass and backlit by a bespoke LED lighting system designed to gradually change colour over the course of the year.
To ensure the work truly reflected the endeavours of the highly-skilled team of professionals at the hospital, Ball collaborated with surgeons and staff from various departments, even witnessing thoracic surgery first hand, while at the same time investigating and researching source material for his work.
And, not only is the finished installation directly influenced by the people who work at the Royal Papworth, but it is also reflective of their ongoing medical advancements.
“This work has been a long time in the making and was underpinned every step by the firm belief in the importance of art in the recovery of patients,” said Ball.
“While I have always believed this to be the case, I gained a much-greater appreciation of its importance when my daughter fell ill and we found ourselves in and out of hospital with her. Hospitals can be intimidating environments.
“So I wanted my work to be welcoming for patients and their families as they arrive, and to create a less-clinical, optimistic feel and a brief distraction from their circumstances.”
In creating Until the day you feel good, Ball enlisted the help of renowned French colour expert, author, and designer, Jean Gabriele Causse.
The impact of colour on wellness has been well documented in scientific and medical journals internationally.
And, incorporating this knowledge, the illuminated colour panels transition imperceptibly through the seasons to mark the passing of time.
Tones of yellow and orange warm the winter months, while cool, calming, and relaxing blues and greens fill the panels in summer.
Ball collaborated with surgeons and staff from various departments in the hospital to come up with the innovative design
According to Causse, the author of The Power of Colours: “The gradually-changing colour in Adam’s piece reflects the hospital as a dynamic place, evolving day after day.
“Colour offers comfort and subtly enhances trust, which in a project like this is crucial to the wellness and healing journey.”
Ian Fleetwood, lead designer at HOK’s London Studio, said: “Adam was a logical and intuitive choice for the entrance piece at the Royal Papworth Hospital.
“He worked closely with the design team at the early stage of the design process and his enthusiasm and collaborative approach perfectly illustrates the symbiotic relationship between art and architecture, which, as ever, is rich and rewarding.”
HOK’s regional healthcare leader, Allison Wagner, added: “Adam worked closely with the HOK healthcare and Papworth medical teams, to find inspiration for his piece.
“The installation is truly uplifting and will help brighten the day for patients and families when they enter the hospital for years to come.”
Tones of yellow and orange warm the winter months, while cooling blues and greens appear during the summer