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Broadmoor Hospital

Window artwork by Jon Thompson

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broadmoor-hospital
broadmoor-hospital
broadmoor-hospital
broadmoor-hospital
broadmoor-hospital
broadmoor-hospital
broadmoor-hospital

Categories:
Facades , Health & education , Europe/middle east/africa

Art in Site were hired in 2013 as the art consultant for the £250m New Broadmoor redevelopment project ¬– a high-secure mental health care unit in the South of England, catering to patients with severe mental illness. For many, Broadmoor is home: patients will typically spend 4-8 years here, and some will spend even longer. As such, the designed environment has a profound role to play in supporting a patient’s sense of hope, wellbeing, health, and recovery. One of the most important spaces at Broadmoor is the multifaith room, which is designed to be adaptable for prayer and mediation across a broad spectrum of faiths. We worked with the late artist Jon Thompson – curator of Freeze and innovative head of Goldsmiths Art School in London – to develop a window for this room, which aims to bring spiritual and emotional support, at the same time as it conforms to various religious requirements. To achieve this, we conducted a series of consultation sessions and workshops with patients across the faith background spectrum, in order understand their emotional, religious, and practical needs, and hear from them what would make for a meaningful intervention. During conversations with patients, Jon identified a common theme - the idea of “the light and dark” that resides in all human beings. Patients described a need to show this – to reveal it through design – rather than hide it away. Jon ingeniously took this insight and produced a sketched design, which reflects this self-expression of light and dark, literally. The large bay window is constructed from a series of coloured Vanceva panels with a broad tonal spectrum: the darker shades of blue, purple, red, indicating the darker side of our nature, along with the lighter shades of yellows, greens, and whites, indicating the potential light in all of us, as described by patients. The window faces South, catching the direct sunlight and offering a beautiful play of light on floor and walls from morning to evening. The window’s scale, colour range, and translucency lends it the grandeur of a traditional cathedral stained glass window, and yet the clarity of Vanceva makes for a modern, dynamic effect – reflecting a service that has its eye on the future. When we first approached Hamilton Erskine with a proposal to produce multiple colours on single panes of Vanceva glass, (some of which as thin as 8mm), it was seen as a huge challenge and an unknown. Nonetheless, we were successful in achieving our aims, and the result is a feat of engineering that sets a new precedent for ways of using Vanceva in artistic contexts. This window has become a centerpiece for the institution, enjoyed by patients and staff alike from the inside, and outside. Whatever the weather, it helps to brighten the environment, and will last for decades, helping to inspire patients on their emotional and spiritual journeys during their time at Broadmoor.