The journey to Al Jalila Children's hospital of course starts in the car on the way there, but the design
journey also begins before you get inside the building.
It's a journey that's been crafted by Carla Conte, director and founder, and her team at Brand Creative. They were initially approached by the hospital in Al Jaddaf, Dubai, in early 2017 to work on concepts for the welcome experience, atrium, rooms, corridors and a dedicated Teen Lounge.
Their scope since then has also included the Doctor’s Lounge, a playground (under the existing giant Ladybird auditorium) and the reception area.All of the design works remain in the concept phase, but once they come to life, children will understand they're about to enter a space made entirely for them.
A giant caterpillar greets them outdoors. Colourful, friendly and approachable , he lends a playful attitude to the space. His 'changed self' – a giant butterfly – sits on the edge of the building in a beautiful display of before and after. It's a symbolic message that change can be good and can actually make you better than your previous self. It's the perfect analogy for a state-of-the-art hospital with the best medical talent there is. Inside, a cocoon-shaped information desk greets all visitors.
Stemming from this sculptural desk is a kinetic mobile of colourful butterflies that swirl into the skylight (another link to the giant caterpillar on the facade). The butterflies will be programmed to react to human movement below (using sensors) or timed to indicate the time of day (there's slow fluttering at night versus faster choreographies during the day). There's also the opportunity for marketing and product opportunities based on the caterpillar character.
Corridors and rooms are a graphic, colourful extension of the nature theme created for the hospital by the original architects. Cost-effective vinyl solutions that are sensitive to the existing conditions can still have maximum effect by creating a custom palette of vibrant colour and pattern.3D elements layered with 2D surfaces add depth. State-of-the-art technology complements the room interiors when and where appropriate only. Day and night scene projections on the ceiling can transport patients into the outside world, beyond their room (or even the city or country...)
Perhaps they want to be in the Antarctica? What does the night sky look like there?) Another key area of consideration was the Doctor’s Lounge. The lounge takes cues from a working café environment, with communal tables and a variety of seating options to allow for comfortable, enjoyable and rejuvenating breaks.
Terrazzo, biophilia and warm woods contribute to an overall relaxing and modern space. The concept for the teen lounge (called the Drop In) is inspired by the patients themselves. Many patients look different to others, while other perceive things in a different way to most.
The idea is that our world is more interesting (and more beautiful) when we see things from a different perspective.
Many of the design features in the drop-in are shown in a manner that is not consistent with everyday reality, such as flowers falling from the sky or glass trees growing from the ceiling.
It was also inspired by the four seasons of the year, which makes the aesthetic solution cohesive to the rest of the hospital, picking up on the overall nature theme as well as representing people's ever-changing emotions. The designers say no single state is 'right or wrong' and without one phase (such as a dark winter) you cannot transition and grow to the next (like blossoming in the spring).
In terms of interactivity, a custom app for teen patients will provide trendy games and contests, which will tie into marketing campaigns and current events. At the windows metal frames feature coloured strings which can be played with to create 'cats cradle' pieces of artwork (which will be changed by the next patient).
Augmented reality devices will also be provided at the reception to the appropriate patients so they can experience a customdesigned program that ties in with the hospital's whimsical nature theme. For the patients this is much more than a simple trip to the hospital, then.
Not only are their senses awakened on the drive up to the building but every step of the way through their time inside there will be innovative design features that allow them to explore their own creativity and think about their own, personal journey.