Tenovus Cancer Care Mobile Chemotherapy Unit: Thinking Outside the Box, Inside the Box (Part II). Blog by Olivia Laxton, Austin-Smith:Lord
After the consultation period, our findings helped steer our design development by identifying the key principles of the brief we needed to satisfy. The biggest challenge throughout this stage was creating design options that would satisfy all of the operational and functional requirements for the unit, whilst being able to be securely stored once the unit was collapsed for transit. We called this stage…EXTREME TETRIS! It forced us to think of unique and creative interior solutions that would not force us to sacrifice the design quality or inhibit the function of the space.
One key principle that was developed during the brief development, consultation and design process was for the new unit to have Human-Centric lighting. It is more important than just providing enough illumination for the space; the lighting needs to suit the variety of spaces within the unit. In the main treatment space, it must be able to adapt its temperature in order to mimic natural daylight levels and promote the natural circadian rhythm within the patients. A study (Walch et al 2005) showed that patients who were exposed to daylight within a hospital room required 22% less medication, felt less stressed, and experienced a decrease in pain levels. At the same time, the lighting within the treatment space must not compromise the levels required for the nurses to carry out their tasks.
The colour scheme for the unit we developed is focused around landscape images that are an integral part of the existing units and extremely popular with patients and staff. By using images of welsh landscapes, we are able to bring Biophillic elements into the space to allow visitors to benefit from it. The 2014 Terrapin Bright Green report highlighted the 14 patterns of biophillic design and how these can be used to “reduce stress, enhance creativity and clarity of thought, improve our wellbeing and expedite healing”. The layout and finishes aim to take visitors on a journey from the earthy tones in the reception, through to the openness of beachy landscapes in the main treatment area.
With the new unit needing to accommodate a greater variety of specialist rooms, the challenge was then to maintain as much flexibility as possible for the potential future uses. Through detailed design development, we created spaces and furniture that could be folded and stored away into walls whilst freeing up as much floor space as possible. We increased the amount of natural light into the space by allowing for high level windows to supplement the interior lighting without compromising privacy and patient dignity.
At the final presentation to the Tenovus Cancer Care Senior Management Team, we produced 360ᵒ VR visuals of the space, allowing the client to be completely immersed within the space. For a lot of clients, it is hard to read plans and drawings, so this is a great tool to allow them to understand the feel of the space without having to visualise it for themselves.
So far, this project has been incredibly challenging and rewarding, as well as offering an opportunity to work on a job that focuses on utilising good design for the sole focus of benefiting the wellbeing of its users.
This project evidences Austin-Smith:Lord’s ability to create outstanding spaces from challenging briefs. All of the design detail intent drawings have now been issued to the coach builders and the new mobile chemotherapy unit will be commissioned in July 2018.
This is part II of a blog by Olivia Laxton. You can find Part I at this link: Thinking Outside the Box, Inside the Box. Part I