Most of the patients at Fukuoka Children’s Hospital are critically ill and facing serious and anxiety-producing medical treatments. Many of the patients and their families travel to the new 239-bed, 305,500-sq.-ft. hospital from remote places beyond the borders of the prefecture.
The goal of the Shimazu Environmental Graphics design team was to create a space that would decrease the stress and anxiety for children and their families and allow them to easily navigate the hospital, from patient room to examination rooms and various treatment spaces.
Shimazu’s design encompasses an interior color plan, graphics, furniture, signs and icons to guide them through the facility and provide a calm space. A consistent series of green signs help patients and visitors navigate the facility.
Artwork throughout the space was completed with the help of 1,000 local schoolchildren who were invited to participate in a unique project that helped create a warm and welcoming environment for patients and families, and helped the students learn empathy.
Shimazu established the design theme of “Welcome to Teriha Town. You have a lot of friends here that you can count on.” (Teriha is where the hospital is located.) Each floor revolves around the charms of the town. The outpatient floor is called “Friendly Forest,” while the intensive care unit was themed “Beautiful Garden.”
In the design creation processes, the students were provided with themes and asked to create artwork elements supporting the themes. For example, 200 students created leaves that were transformed into trees that grew into a forest inhabited by friendly animals. The 100 pieces of flowers drawn by another 100 students transformed a long and boring passage into a flower garden, and the flowers are blooming in the treatment rooms and examination rooms as well. The 80 houses and shops drawn by the 80 students make up a village, offering a warm welcome to the children staying in the hospital.
One of the principle design priorities of the project was to create a quality space, making the most of the traits of the drawings created by the elementary and junior high school students while infusing a level of sophistication and consistency. Color combinations were kept quiet and understated to support the atmosphere of healing.
The Shimazu team considered where children would look as they are being moved from patient rooms to hallways to operation rooms, and which rooms and spaces might cause the most stress or anxiety. Graphics are often executed on ceilings and walls of those spaces.
Another project goal was to increase the students’ awareness of illness and of caring for others. Many of the hospital patients are the same age as the students who participated in creating artwork. During project workshops, the students worked hard to infuse their drawings with their wishes that the children with illness will get better soon. After the project was completed, participating students were given a tour of the hospital and were delighted with the results of their work.
What impressed the clients and designers most was how the students perceived the hospital facility. One student said, “I don’t want to get ill, but I may like to come to this hospital.”
Katsuhiro Shimazu (principal in charge); Maya Nakamuta (creative director); Toshimitsu Sadamura (project manager); Masatoshi Kazumori, Yurika Moriyama, Yanfang Zhang, Takafumi Yamada, Koji Umemoto, Tomotaka Nagao, Takeharu Hagiwara (designers)
Yamashita Sekkei Inc. (architect)
Toda Corporation (primary fabricator), Revive (sub-fabricator)
"An incredibly light, lyrical, expressive response in an environment that can be heavy. Its effectiveness stems from the contributions of the children. This is not a design language imposed onto children by adults—it’s a child’s language articulated through design in a public space. Incredible authenticity."