1st prize "Design a smile" interior design competition promoted by Aipi
team project: G. Carra, I. de Landerset, M. Disavino, M. Lena
«Children have no past, and that is the whole secret of the magical innocence of their smiles»  Milan Kundera
This project would like to be a statement against the common imaginery of hospitals, which are often places of boredom, with their alienating and unpersonal long corridors, with their sad lines of doors or endless sequences of windows. This project wants to offer a different vision, a hymn to variation and to a sort of structured dynamism. It represents a challenge towards curiosity, an invitation to feel some sort of living joy, that is the very essence of childhood.
The modular structure for the rooms, which is the core of the project, is based on a pentagonal shape, irregular and blunt. Within the hospital division, this generates winding movements, dynamic paths, visual rythms, brand new,everchanging, bizarre and playful directions. This stands out as an object within one space, because of its physical volumetric wholeness. Thus the sense of protection and safeness of the child is enforced.
You can almost already see in these modular rooms children running, interacting, sittingdown, playing, chatting, learning from life and experiences that may happen in this very special division. Then, suddenly, you clearly see, behind one of those blunt corners of this winding division, a little face lean out and smile.
Distribution and division
We decided to focus on the bedrooms, trying to make them patient friendly as much as possible. That is why the whole concept of the project takes its stand from the room and from the perception the patient has of it within the distribuition spaces.
Getting away from a functionalistic logic, the core of the project is in the modular room, re-interpreted as an object that is free in the space. The rooms have been modeled according to a softly deformed and winding scheme. The goal was to find a room size that would be able to draw the sorrounding space, generating a cosy and confortable habitat. A space that would like to be somehow reassuring.
Thus the rooms turn out to be blunt objects, that can be perceived from the outside in their volumetric wholeness. They represent inner elements in an inner space; this is supposed to enforce the sense of protection felt by the child who is now inside the very object.
Externally, like in a joyful rubber patchwork, flexous spaces are built. They can be used dynamically and unexpectedly. The corridor, now far from the distribuitive, ortogonal and monotonous path, becomes an everchanging landscape.
The new asset of the division includes the detachment from the facade, allowing the outside light to touch all the sorrounding spaces. The rooms are not anymore exclusively connected with the external facade (as in any typical scheme). Thus, following an object trouvé esthetic, the whole division is organically generated around the rooms, enpowering the resulting spaces. These get to enbody a fundamental role in the concept of the whole project, for what concerns the comfort.
The walls modelling follows a path of contraxts (full and empty) that generate beautiful light tricks and challenge the child curiosity, reminding him/her of the hideand seek dynamic.
The facade doubleskin, built up with a dry technology, creates a playful filter between the outside and the inside. The vertical closure becomes more than a mere protective wall from the outside. It is now a starting point from where it is possible to stare at the sky and be driven away from fantasy. Its triangular structure allows a path made up by niches withdiverse orientations that can turn into cosy spaces, suitable for moments of reading, chatting and playing.
The light tricksare a natural consequence and they draw the inner space in a joyful, varied way, fighting away the feeling of being stuck in some sort of monolitic barrier, separated from the outside world.
The same concept of filter has been used to characterize the functional ambients, suchas the school area, the library and the play room.There has been a stress inavoiding any division between the different areas, any separation between the hospital and the recreation room, in order to create a common and contagious feeling of joy and dynamism.
Functionally, we decided to place the infirmary and secretarial office near to the main entrance, next to a chill out area,enriched of comfortable seats and chaise lounge, so that the parent can beclose to the child and, at the same time, find some comfort within the space.
At the opposite side of the division we thought of placing the school and the library. These are intentionally separated from thedaily work flow of the hospital, in order to create a space where the child can feel at ease. That is why we decided to give all the free spaces on the floor the function of extended play rooms. So that, leaving his/her room, the child can immediately get in contact with a more familiar context, the one of the play.
Aggregative system
The architectural dialectichas not only to do with the spatial and volumetric composition, but comes across and meets functional and constructive issues.
Firstly, the room cells get closer to one another becoming a couple; this union is generated through an inbetween volume, weaker and more neutral, which is the place where the toilet is placed. A single bathroom block (including wc, shower and two sinks) is shared by four little patiens, allowing an obvious optimization in terms of plants and budget.
Furthermore, this is studied and sized with the purpose of being extremely user friendly for disabled children.
This gathering structure - modular room, toilet, modular room - is the trademark of the division and is thus connected with the pre-existing elements, particularly with the structural components. The pillars may be hidden or included, becoming elements of the whole composition.
The final result is a system full of its own rhythm, that follows few simple rules, withouth ever losing its power in terms of space or perception. The overall layout is elusive, definitely far away from the anonymous structure of the conventional systems, which often suffer from a poor spacial perception, unsuitable to the curious mind of a child.
Construction system
The room constructive system is simple and approachable for everyone, in order to avoid a necessary presence of skilled labour.
Every unit is made of a fixed structure plus interchangeable cladding elements. The structure consists in a steel U section bar, following the shape of the room, that hosts wooden pillars placed every 60cm. These elements have two vertical rows of holes, realised every 10 cm. The cladding elements get fixed to the pillars following rules that remind the constructive system of children building blocks: every panel has four pegs, that exactly fits into pillars’ holes, simply pressing them. Panels’ shape hide the constructive system from the outside of the room, but makes it visible from the inside, expressly emphasizing its components and its simplicity inexecution.
There are three  families of panels: rectangular-solid, angular-solid (120° e 90°), rectangular-transparent.
In every family we can find variations concerning dimensions (respecting the modular length of 60 cm) and colours (five colours): with the apparently random disposition of these panels we get a funny patchworkfor our walls.
The simplicity of the assembling system and the variations of the panels give us a total flexibility: it’s possible to change layout and composition of the walls, just moving the panels according both to patients’ personal need sand aesthetical desires.
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interior design of a pediatric hospital