The revitalized CIBC Just For Kids walk-in clinic at St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto is a dynamic new space that captures the imagination of children with interactive art installations.
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Client: St. Joseph's Health Centre
Artists: Mike Ellis, Sydney Smith
Photographers: Tom Arban, Lisa Logan
The intent was to construct a more playful child-friendly environment within the existing surgical recovery, inpatient and clinic spaces. Architects, artists and fabricators all collaborated to create a stress-free zone, where discovery and play can take place. A series of feature elements in the central waiting area, such as peephole viewing into unexpected animated worlds, incorporate entertaining and interactive installations. Artwork and imagery, based on built and landscape features, are incorporated into the project as a means of improving patient way finding and creating greater presence and identity for each distinct program element.
Reimagined areas include the pediatric walk-in clinic (reception/waiting, examination spaces and support space); six-bed surgical day unit for pre- and post-operative care; four new examination rooms supporting the existing pediatric inpatient clinic, and a series of small renovations to make the child and adolescent mental health space more closely tailored to its users.
Art can play an important role in humanizing a space especially when it is intended for children. The idea of integrating artwork came from the need to think beyond the architectonics of the space in order to really connect with the end users, the children. By collaborating with a professional children’s book illustrator and an artist specializing in small-scale haptic environments, the project systematically became more “child-friendly”, an important requirement set by the client.
In specific instances, artists’ sketches were the generative medium for the definition of project scope and led to the re-organization of architectural elements to provide a suitable back-drop for illustrations of theme elements.
Clinical interventions were quite minor and focused on simple flow and space improvements. The bulk of the project was the re-casting of the department as a children’s place and to improve the experience for children and families visiting the clinic.
Certain illustrations that were tattooed into architectural surfaces to withstand contact and repeated cleaning became integral pieces of the design.
If the environment itself feels friendly and child centered, the children will be more receptive to care.
Roll over animations to automatically play video
The open and engaging collaboration between the two artists and architects enabled a renewed design thinking on many different scales – a thinking intent on leveraging the sense of discovery children inherently have.
The design process that began with a series of questions revolving around the desire to reduce the stress and anxiety of the care process by creating an environment that was interesting, interactive and familiar, became an exercise in re-visiting the traditional architectural experience children have – from materials, colours, shapes of spaces and how people move through space.
The project addresses the desire to engage patients during waiting times as well as – create opportunities for discovery that could unfold over several visits as the patient moved from one area of the department to another. The need to provide positive distraction in a warm and welcoming environment has yielded a complex and textured result.
The design and the décor of the entire floor were inspired by the nature and animals of High Park, nearby waterways like Grenadier Pond and Lake Ontario – elements illustrated by award-winning local artists Sydney Smith and Mike Ellis.
Click on any of the thumbnails opposite to get a more detailed look at the mural and its location on the map below
Mental Health Terrace
Outpatient Corridor NNW
Surgical Day Care
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