Projects Office are currently working on the interior design of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Unit of Edinburgh’s new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People (RHCYP).

Inpatient communal open space

Inpatient quiet zone

Inpatient bedroom

Excerpt from the wall graphics that will be deployed in circulation areas

Excerpt from the wall graphics that will be deployed in circulation areas

Day unit waiting room


NHS Lothian / Edinburgh / Ongoing

The new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People is due to open in Summer 2019, bringing together departments from across Edinburgh  into a new purpose-built building. Our project is part of an art and therapeutic design programme managed by Ginkgo Projects for the NHS.

Our appointment, in October 2015, followed a successful pitch in an open call for submissions, where we were praised for our innovative user centred design approach. This allowed stakeholders to engage with the project early in the design process, resulting in a collaboratively developed and cohesive set of designs. These explore the boundaries of established thought on the provision of mental health care environments, and it’s been a great pleasure to create innovative and unconventional healing spaces with the input, support and enthusiasm of the CAMHS’ NHS staff, patients and families.

Continuing our collaboration with artist James Leadbitter we carried out extensive interactive workshops with different user groups to refine the project brief. These were fascinating and informative sessions, which underlined the emotional as well as practical importance of well-designed spaces for mental health, a topic we remain passionate about. This process offered first-hand information about coping with mental health issues, and helped us to define a range of comfortable and non-clinical spaces for young people suffering from significant distress.  

In our workshops we asked ‘What does good mental health feel like?’. It was fascinating that so many described the environment of the coast. The theme of the sea was woven into a narrative thread that unifies a wide variety of different spaces and programmes within the department. Referencing the landscape, colours and landmarks of the Scottish east coast the interiors are designed to be age appropriate, gradually transforming from vibrant seaside colours and motifs in spaces for the younger children to a more rugged offshore theme for the teenagers. The atmosphere is vibrant, friendly and non institutional without being artificially domestic or patronising.

To satisfy NHS requirements, all design proposals have to demonstrate ‘best value’ and ensure durable and practical solutions to complex requirements, which included a rigorous assessment of suitability. To effectively use the budget and identify priorities, our proposals were structured around a ‘kit of parts’ approach, putting forward an easily comprehensible catalogue of implementable design features, furniture and fittings. 

We have also explored innovative use of ‘standard’ materials, such as linoleum floor patterns and plywood fittings.  Working with volumes, rather than relying on expensive finishes, we have created unique and exciting interiors that challenge the expectations of a healthcare environment and represent efficient and effective design solutions.

The project has been approved by the NHS board and main contractor, the fit out contractor has been appointed and fabrication is underway. In coordination with the wider construction programme, installation is due to begin on site in summer 2019. 

Excerpt from the 'kit of parts'

Excerpt from the 'kit of parts'

Isometric view of the inpatient open space

Isometric view of the shared dining and games room

Isometric view of the shared dining and games room