QE Hospital, Birmingham turns into boutique hotel

Posted on Jul 15, 2011

A new cancer ward reignites the question of why our hospitals have to look like hospitals. As any cancer survivor will tell you, a positive diagnosis is not a death sentence. So why do so many hospitals already feel like a morgue?

This was the question that Lucy and Tobie Snowdowne, the duo behind British studio Two Create, wrestled with when they were hired to imagine a new cancer ward in Birmingham, England. After conducting interviews with patients themselves, the Snowdownes diagnosed one potential cure for the common clinic: They made it look like a boutique hotel.

Hired by the Teenage Cancer Trust to create a space for 12 teenage patients in the recently built Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England, Two Create focused less on the architecture and product design and instead reimagined the traditional interior design of a hospital. And in addition to iPod docks and furniture from SCP and Vitra, they designed a few bespoke objects: an end table to allow patients to carry IVs easier, a sofa made with the softest anti-microbial fabrics, and die-cut sheet magnets that patients can use to personalize their rooms. And anyone who has seen patients roaming the halls, IVs in tow, trying to avoid the banality of their rooms, can appreciate the three additional rooms designed solely to be social spaces.

Known as the YPU (Young Persons Unit), the suite in Birmingham is one of 17 units that the Teenage Cancer Trust operates throughout England.

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