Walters & Cohen entered this RIBA-run competition to design an interior play space and roof garden for the Royal London Children’s Hospital, Whitechapel. These dedicated areas for young patients aged 6 months to 18 years and their families should be versatile, designed to suit a range of activities, ages and abilities, and improve the wellbeing of patients and staff.
The concept behind our design is the idea of home as a place of refuge and safety, central to emotional and physical wellbeing. The familiar form of the house is common to the internal and external play spaces. Made of a lightweight frame, they are flexible and offer visual and acoustic separation. The internal play space comprises the playhouse, a ‘kitchen table’ area (the centre of home life), living room, quiet spaces and a flexible storage wall. In the garden, aspects of play and entertainment (a games area, a hilly corner, deckchair cinema) sit alongside areas of relaxation and contemplation.
We worked with artist Juri Nishi who acknowledged the therapeutic benefits of nature. Trees are a central motif, evoking a sense of escape and freedom, texture, sensation and movement. Juri proposed silver tree columns cast from real trees, with tree textures echoed on the glass balustrade to create a sense of depth.