Chelsea Childrens Hospital

Chelsea and Westminster Health Charity


Creative interiors | Art direction | Wayfinding

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There are projects that you just do, those that you enjoy, and then there are those that feel truly great. This is one of them. Thomas Matthews were commissioned by the Chelsea and Westminster Health Charity to design the interior look and feel for seven new paediatric wards within the Chelsea Children’s Hospital: the world class designated lead centre for specialist children’s and neonatal surgery in North West London.

The brief required a response to the theme of ‘Space’, a subject already adopted within the paediatric wards. Thomas.Matthews’ previous experience creating the Jodrell Bank Visitor Centre, home to the Lovell Telescope, and the Weller Space galleries at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, provided a wealth of research for communicating outer space.

The Thomas.Matthews design team created the concept ‘My Universe’ that focuses on the patient experience. Detailed research into the positive effects of art in healthcare environments, the clinical effects of colour and creative consultation with children in the hospital school informed the early stages of the project. “It was an eye-opening experience to understand the hardships some of the patients have gone through – talking to the children and parents re-enforced the importance of creativity in the hospital, as well as the dedication and patience of the hospital staff” says Alexie Sommer.

To bring the concept to life TM collaborated with both Gilles & Cecilie studio and Malika Favre. Their imaginative interpretation lead to a creative storyline which involves families of alien characters that interact with the ward interiors, furniture and equipment. Each ward has its own family who have unique character traits, behaviours and expressions that compliment the ‘activity’ that takes place in the wards. So, the Mars family live in the Burns ward and are, “a super confident, caring and adventurous family who live in the skies and spend their time flying around.”

“Our wish was to make the hospital a more welcoming, friendly and colourful space,” say Gilles & Cecilie. “The illustrated characters within the wards are designed to interact with the visitors of the hospital to give them comfort, assurance and advice. We hope the designs will be a tool to help the patients feel better and more relaxed.”

Illustration: Gilles & Cecilie, Malika Favre
Environmental graphics suppliers: Displayways
Photography: Jim Stephenson