St Bartholomew’s and Royal London hospitals seek art and design commissions

The £1bn redevelopment of St Bartholomew’s and Royal London hospitals in east London could lead to further work for designers under an arts commissioning programme.

The new facilities at Barts and the Royal London are being designed by architect HOK for contractor Skanska in what the architect claims is the world’s largest healthcare private finance initiative project.The work at Barts, in Smithfield, will see the hospital become a specialist cancer and cardiac centre with 53 000m2 of new space and 343 beds, set to complete in 2016.

The redeveloped 905-bed Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel is set to complete in 2014. Interiors for both facilities are being designed by HOK’s in-house healthcare design team, according to a spokeswoman for the practice.

Vital Arts is the charitably funded arts organisation for Barts and the London NHS Trust, which delivers arts projects for the wellbeing of patients and staff at the hospital. Sarah Carrington, commissions manager at Vital Arts, says the organisation is planning a number of tenders for design elements at the Royal London Hospital.

Vital Arts has already launched a competition, organised by the Royal Institute of British Architects, seeking an architect-led multidisciplinary design team to create an internal children’s play space and exterior roof garden for the new hospital. Carrington says Vital Arts is also approaching consultancies in the hunt for a designer for curtains for children’s wards at the hospital, and hopes to appoint in October.

She says, ’We’re looking at curtains around the beds, which are very important as they create an enclosed space for the children. It’s also difficult to install art in a ward, and they tend to be neutral and medicalised areas.’ Carrington says Vital Arts is approaching designers across a number of disciplines, not just textile designers.

The curtains will be produced in spring 2011 to be ready for installation at the beginning of 2012. She says Vital Arts may also seek a designer to produce wayfinding graphics and individual branding for young patients at the hospital. She suggests the graphics would provide an identity for the ’patient journey’ and could be placed at a lower height for children.

Carrington adds that the identity could be ’an individual Royal London brand for children’, which could sit alongside the main brand in any communication. She says that while these plans are subject to attaining sufficient funding ’they will happen in some form’.

Royal London children’s play space tender

  • The deadline for submissions of interest and pre-qualification questionnaires is 15 September
  • Five teams will be selected for the design phase of the competition and each shortlisted team will be awarded an honorarium payment of £4000 plus VAT to develop concept plans
  • For more information and to receive a copy of the PQQ document visit

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