Handspring Design was approached by Lime Arts, the NHS creative commissioning organisation working in the north of England, to design two pieces for the Walton Rehabilitation Unit sited at Aintree Hospital in Liverpool. Both were to be visually enticing sculptures, viewable from windows and within the space, as well as practical furniture to sit and pause on, with elements of protection from wind and rain.
Handspring Design worked with the commissioning team from the NHS Trust to develop a piece for the internal courtyard that incorporated seating and shelter and took into account the rehabilitative nature of the environment. To this end seating was included at a variety of heights, arm rests placed strategically, and a wheelchair space incorporated. The seating was also part-covered with coloured acrylic to provide sun and rain protection.
The seating at the front of the building was designed to enhance the approach to the front entrance by providing visual intrigue and a place to pause. It was important that it did not interfere with site lines and navigation and so needed to be visually and physically porous.
Within the design process it was as important to consider the view from the building as it was to consider the aesthetic and function.
Handspring Design designed the pieces as a pair using the same materials and visual language for both. This gave a continuity between the two outside spaces and therefore increases the overall impact.
Wood is the company's material of choice and, in this very architectural setting, helps to counter-balance the hard nature of the stone glass and steel of the building. Wood is a material which invites the touch. People connect with wood and feel comforted by that connection. In a healthcare environment this connection with the natural world is very beneficial.