Tuesday 14 Dec 2010


Award banner

Opera look to create an environment where children can lead as normal a life as possible in hospital

The new Neonatal Care Unit on the seventh floor of AMC is light and designed with restraint to accommodate the round the clock presence of a large group of people involved in the treatment of infants; including doctors, nurses, but in particular the baby’s family. The architects OD205 are the architectural designers and OPERA Amsterdam are responsible for the interior design.

OPERA defined three principle areas of intimacy: the most private area around the child; that of the child and its immediate surroundings; and that of the child in relation to the outside world. The design had to distinguish and incorporate these three prime areas. The ‘parade’, the main corridor that runs through the hospital much like a high street through a large town, plays an important part in the design.

A high street leads off to all the main public spaces in a town: the town square, the zoo, the park, the sports fields, the theatre - but it also leads home and ultimately to the child’s bedroom. The street acts as a communal meeting place for patients and families and links the departments together. OPERA took the metaphor of the high street as the guiding principle for a coherent design. In addition, they created the option of variation by introducing a clever and sophisticated colour scheme that is slightly different in each area.

Artists from around the world were asked to create illustrations to fit in with the interior design for the Parade. The signposting came out of the same uncomplicated ‘toolkit’. At the heart of the design lies its subtle balance between areas with little sensory stimulation, one where the child can withdraw to and enjoy privacy, to areas (a lounge area, a cinema etc.) where there is plenty of stimulus that will connect the child’s stay at the hospital with the outside world.

OPERA Amsterdam bv