Urban Salon’s NHS sexual health clinic

Urban Salon has completed work on the NHS’ first seven-day-a-week sexual health clinic, on Burrell Street, London, which is run by Guy’s and St Thomas’s Trust.

Ceiling art designed by Allison Dring
NHS Burrell Street Sexual Health Centre

The consultancy was appointed by the Trust in 2011 when it presented ideas to clinical staff and a design advisor.

The landmark project was set up to engage designers and architects that aren’t healthcare specialists, and could bring a different perspective and expertise.

Urban Salon was tasked with developing two railway arches in Southwark to create a welcoming clinic that didn’t look or feel like a standardised hospital environment, and to help break down taboos around the nature of the clinic.

Ceiling art designed by Allison Dring
NHS Burrell Street Sexual Health Centre

The spaces at the front of both arches have been turned into a waiting room – ‘a welcoming and informal’ space, says Urban Salon, featuring a communal table where visitors can read the papers and drink complementary coffee.

Full-height glazing with graphics gives way to the reception from the street. Urban Salon says that although this allows views into the reception it still protects visitors’ privacy.

Urban Salon has commissioned artists to create works that contribute to what it calls ‘a welcoming space which puts users at ease’.

NHS Burrell Street Sexual Health Centre
Mobile artworks by Arnold Gordon

Arnold Goron has created two suspended mobiles in the waiting room comprised of forms resembling sexual organs. The pieces ‘gently rotate’, according to Urban Salon, and are visible from the street.

A central pier supporting the two arches dictates the circulation, and helps to maximise light and space.

Consultation rooms are all located off of this main waiting area, and the doors to each are finished in blackboard laminate, which clinical staff can write their names on when in use.

Ceiling art designed by Allison Dring
Ceiling art designed by Allison Dring

Each of the 16 rooms features art by artist and designer Allison Dring covering the entire ceiling. They take sexual puns and imagery as their theme and are designed to be viewed from the examination couch.

The consultation rooms are split into two sections – a warm and conversational space at the front, which can be screened off, and a ‘clean and fresh clinical section at the rear,’ used for examination, according to Urban Salon.

Two separate rooms are used for counselling. Located in the quieter part of the clinic, these have sofas, lower light levels, and Eames Elephants chairs for when children are present with their families.

NHS Burrell Street Sexual Health Centre
Back wall graphics by Martin McGraph, and left blackboard laminate consultation room door

Wall graphics designed by Martin McGrath reference Dring’s ceiling art but primarily act as a wayfinding device with a ‘friendly tone of voice’ for visitors, says Urban Salon.

A 120-seat auditorium on the first floor can be used for teaching, internal meetings, and for private hire to outside organisations. The ceiling of the auditorium is curved to match the curvature of the arch.

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