Channel 4 showed a short program after today’s news at 7pm introducing this year’s finalists for Royal Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize.

I will vote for Evelina Children’s Hospital, which is part of Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust , one of the largest NHS Trusts. I’d never liked hospitals – well who does? But, everyone will, no doubt, love this hospital.

The hospital serves a diverse community – over 140 languages are spoken locally – so, for practical as well as aesthetic reasons, colour, symbols and themes from the natural world will be used to help people find their way around. Children worked with a story teller to come up with the themes for the seven storeys. These are: ocean, arctic, forest, beach, savannah, mountain and sky. They also worked with a visual artist, Mary Evans, to help design the motifs for the floor tiles which relate to each theme, such as shells and crabs for the beach.

Art and installations have been commissioned to help entertain and distract children during their visit or stay in the hospital. These include a helter-skelter in the out-patients area and an interactive ‘teleporter’ video piece that will stimulate children of all ages with its video trickery.

Other considerations, such as a ‘snake floor plan’, rather than long, straight hospital corridors generate a more informal feel and separate the open, multi-bed wards from the utility spaces and single bed rooms, as well as breaking up the size and shape of the bed bays.

Previous winners are controversial IMHO. Scottish Parliament building, which was completed three years late and 10 times over budget, was the 2005 winner. Gherkin, which some people see ugly and may be sold off soon, was the 2004 winner.

P.S. I just missed a fantastic Open House London this year, which opened over 600 buildings, many of them are normally closed for the public, completely free of charge. I can’t wait for the next year’s event.

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