‍Angel Chen and Jim Huang

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While in hospital, patients can feel lonely and disconnected from the outside world. The atrium, located at the heart of the new hospital, reimagined an un-utilised space. This space, honed immense potential to improve the healthcare experience for patients during their recovery in hospital.

The solution, called ‘The Vertical Sky’ was an interactive installation that brought natural elements inside. The design of the walkway and balcony took inspiration from the natural curve of waves. The three-tiered balcony offered various spaces for patients and their family to relax and enjoy the sun, sky, and installation. The installation could also be viewed from within the ward room or from the walkway situated directly underneath the installation itself. The space encourages patients to engage with their surroundings and connect with people through shared experiences.

The interactive installation was constructed by a series of hanging light capsules suspended between the hospital's two buildings. Inspired by the rhythm of nature, these lights represented stars that changed in response to the environment and the movement and activity of the hospital. The stars moved during the day when the hospital is active, and were still at night as the hospital sleeps. The kaupapa of the installation was to make patients and their families feel welcome, safe, and respected, therefore helping them build confidence to be empowered throughout their healing journey.

The Atrium project was part of Integrated Studio (an undergraduate paper offered from 2019-2021) which provided an opportunity for these students to use creative processes to better understand user needs and to challenge preconceived notions about what a healthcare facility should look and feel like. As part of their research, the students collaborated with North Shore Hospital's Institute of Innovation and Improvement (i3), where they were able to simulate being a patient in one of their wards, gain empathy through disability simulations, and participate in a variety of co-design activities with patients, their families, and staff.