Reddy O'Riordan Staehli Architecture completes new mental health facility for young people
The new Child and Adolescent Mental Health Facility at Cherry Orchard Hospital provides modern mental health services for young people aged 2 to 18 years. The new facility amalgamates of a number of existing satellite departments with varied user groups and staffing requirements and is central to the Health Service’s ‘Vision for Change’ Mental Health programme.
The principle philosophy of the brief was to provide an inviting, open, community-based building with an overriding emphasis on a safe child and adolescent environment. Preliminary sketches illustrated how the building could consist of a number of wings (leaves) that contain the separate functions of the brief while providing interconnectivity through a shared, common foyer that provides the desired level of security.
The design aimed to provide a distinct and inviting building, empathetic to children and adolescents with very particular needs and anxieties. Initial analysis and sketch proposals established principles which sought to create appropriate therapeutic environments. The building’s form and materiality are derived from the desire to ground the facility in its natural landscape environment; its playful form and vivid colour are perceived through a canopy of existing trees. Like a fallen leaf, and its autumnal colours, the building sits peacefully in its parkland setting.
The completed design prides itself on the subtlety with which the atypical safety requirements common to mental health facilities have been discretely incorporated within the design, resulting in a building that is devoid of institutional presence, a normal yet safe building. The design pays particular regard to the need for autonomy of each department, this is denoted by the use of discreet dedicated entrances and individualised colour schemes which animate the architectural façade and the organically themed interiors.
The building’s playful massing, the use of natural daylight and ventilation and the opportunity to maximise views, combine to create an environment to aid the efficacy of treatment provided. Careful attention to scale, colour, detail and materials has resulted in a facility that is as inviting to children, as the surrounding flowers and fallen leaves that inspired the initial concept.