This project aimed at renewing an existing space at the centre of Starship Children’s Hospital. The key objective was to create a fun and interactive environment that offers some escape from often stressful circumstances for hospital patients, their families, visitors and staff.
The existing atrium at the centre of the building is eight storeys high and years of use had left it a drab and unfriendly leftover space. The challenge was to maximise the impact of the renewal while at the same time working within a limited budget.
Three design themes were presented to the Starship and funder SkyCity Community Fund; with the winning idea being the New Zealand rainforest.
The key idea was to create an abstract rainforest fit out of the space that would stimulate the imagination and nurture its users. The intention was to create an environment that could also be overlaid with activities and games.
The concept addresses surface treatments of the walls and floor, occupation of the space with tactile natural objects and furniture, and the creation of a floating ‘ceiling’ within the ten storey space to give a sense of scale by breaking the strong vertical flow. Illusion and daring become an essential tool of the idea, in both challenging perceptions and as a real solution to the brief of creating limited intervention in a large volume of space, as well as to ensure the rainforest installation works as a whole.
Leading edge digital print technology was utilised to create huge images of NZ rainforest on wall panels. The floor is a continuous image made from digital graphics prints encapsulated in vinyl floor tiles. These tiles are used to create a montage of streams, grass fields, forest floor and stone beaches.
This digital backdrop is then juxtaposed with recycled power pole ‘trees’, organic timber benches, specimen rocks and 'Krazy Kat' clouds.