Credit Valley Hospital
The first phase of work on the existing large urban hospital campus included amongst other program elements, a new main entrance to the larger hospital and specifically to the ambulatory and cancer centre programs, in the form of an internal courtyard-like space.
Process: Farrow organized a number of exploratory discussions before starting the design process, as to what the clients medical and clinical values were towards their patients, families and staff.
The core values of the organization was based on creating a clinical feeling of being emotionally safe, understood and accepted, so a patient will open up about health issues, imagine a possible way forward to a better health future, enabling them to be more confident in the ability to grow towards better health.
In salutogenic terms, this is about a sense of coherence, our ability to comprehend a different future, which we can manage and the future state is meaningful.
From a psychological perspective, the characteristics are of feeling emotionally safe, understood and accepted in a relationship and the emotional characteristic are those of being: natural, still and self-connected, solidness, durable and trustworthy, intimate and familiar, authentic, and a generousness that is open and inclusive.
In terms of architectural characteristics, they reflect qualities of space that are of: nature; solidness, silence, stillness and intimacy; authenticity; and generous.
When facing cancer, it is a disease that puts you on you back foot; all that was certain become suddenly like a vortex; the future is now uncertain; the speed of the spread of the disease, the ability to contain and treat it also uncertain; changes to your physical body, your energy and confidence, all disrupted by many of the prescribed treatments methods.
The main design response of the new courtyard lobby consists of four massive structural wood columns, too big to physically wrap your arms around. Each column base is then dividing into three slightly curved columns, which lean outwards, that divide again into numerous smaller individual radial cantilevered beams that support the roof.
The form was intentionally chosen to be reminiscent, familiar, like that of a very old deciduous trees in a meadow clearing; natural, real, authentic, that remained together in the same place year after year after year, in the face of hailstorms and lightening, cold winters and hot dry summers; solid, silent, durable, grounded.
The structure expands out above and over you, creating the perception of a canopy, of shade and protection.
As the beams expand upwards, when they engage the roof, they appear to push the solid portions of the ceiling upwards, resulting in the solid potions transforming into become glass lanterns at their peak, creating the sensation of the structural naturally growing and pushing upwards, opening, expanding, splitting the roof and exposing the sky beyond and brining light with. The sunlight then creates multiple patterns on the columns structure and the floor below, ever moving, changing, pulsing, based on changing atmospheric conditions, times of day (and night) light as well as distinct seasonal light conditions.
The lobby is triangular in plan, with the columns positioned to surround a central space in the courtyard. The space has directional clarity from a wayfinding perception yet doesn’t reveal everything; creating a sense of discovery, of larger and smaller sub-spaces; some larger and visually thrusting upwards; other smaller, more intimate and visually enclosed within the larger whole; at points becoming visually spatially symmetrical, like the inverted hull of a boat, while at other points appearing overlapping and undulating like reeds underwater moving in a water current.
Curved wood benches allow you to sit near, and under, the massive columns outward reach, feeling familiar, relaxed, secure and protected by the muscular column above. Other areas are more open and expanding, optimistic, a sense of the possible; architectural elements as a manifestation of the clients medical values.