Nature/Nurture Architecture: A New Typology

IMG_6556Championing creativity is exactly what my blog is all about. Having attended the Royal College of Art Final Graduate Show this summer, I was overwhelmed by the sheer talent from the MA Interior Design students. Having just completed an MA in Interior Architecture myself it was of a ‘double interest’ for me to see the quality of work and creative processes adopted by the students. But there was one project in particular which caught my eye. ‘A New Typology for Stroke Rehabilitation’ is a very innovative & thought-provoking interiors project created by RCA MA Interior Design student Rosann Ling. Rosann was initially inspired to study at the RCA in order “to be amongst the most talented & driven students of art and design”. Having graduated from an interdisciplinary BA Design degree at Goldsmiths, she then went in head first working for an interior design company for two years. Believing that “design shouldn’t be tied to a certain discipline” Rosann states that “we should always be working alongside each other and taking inspiration from one another”.  This is an ideology I can certainly ‘high five’ as throughout my own studies I was strongly influenced by and sought inspiration from multiple disciplines from fashion, illustration, graphic design and photography.

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“RCA is all about the merging and challenging of boundaries between disciplines, that’s what makes it stand out from other art colleges”Rosann Ling

IMG_6632The brief was to create a new typology of healthcare & well-being for stroke patients. This would be executed using interior design to facilitate and create an enjoyable & rewarding  recovery process. This project was extremely close to Rosann due to an unfortunate twist-of-fate when her Grandmother suffered a stroke two years ago. “Research has linked poor design to negative consequences for patients including anxiety, increased blood pressure and intake of pain [relief] drugs”. Concentrating on the ‘secondary prevention’ stage of the recovery & rehabilitation the aim of this project was not to completely “reform the National Health Service (NHS) but instead to use design strategies to create an ‘add-on’ scheme that functions alongside it”.

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IMG_6550_editWithin the interior of the space the fundamental aspects for consideration were both ease and accessibility. Within the kitchen for instance, tables were designed to make the process of cooking as enjoyable and as comfortable as possible for stroke survivors. This level of design allows survivors to gain their independence back and regain their confidence through straightforward domestic tasks.

I really focussed on the details and the moments that happen within the space – ‘How’ to design the space so it helps and encourages the stroke patients to keep going and keep motivated as much as possible. This all comes down to the details of ease and accessibility. For example, the kitchen table is designed to make the processes of cooking as enjoyable as possible for stroke survivors. After a stroke, most are significantly affected on one side of the body than the other. This makes simple tasks such as chopping or mixing very difficult. I have designed drawers beneath the table top that can be pulled out to become mixing bowl rings to place bowls into, or pastry boards with rolling pins attached to them — therefore allowing them to work single-handed without having to worry about bowls toppling over or ingredients getting everywhere. This all aids stroke survivors to regain their confidence in simple domestic tasks as the tools allow them to carry out these activities independently without relying on the help of others.

Rosann Ling

Like most creative students, we face many personal, professional and academic challenges.  I can certainly vouch for this as an arts MA graduate. The biggest challenge faced by Rosann was “trying to live up to what she perceived was the RCA standard. At RCA we all put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do our best but I realised towards the end of the two years that it’s also really important to enjoy the journey and learn that we are here to be reminded of how much we love what we do”. 

IMG_6558IMG_6636The scale of research was immense for this final year project. Choosing Charing Cross hospital’s Stroke Unit in West London due to its “strong research foundations”, it was the perfect case study. Similar to the Maggie’s care centre concept, attention to detail was drawn from Rosann’s raw experience and in-depth research. Rosann spent a vast amount of time investigating the current facilities available to stroke survivors within & outside a hospital setting. This paired with interviewing and speaking with doctors, occupational therapists, charity workers and stroke survivors themselves – it’s been an in-depth analysis of the implications of a stroke as well as the interior design. Using this wealth of knowledge & research Rosann then applied this to her thesis which then looked into pursuing “…pleasure through cooking, dining and sharing. To me my project isn’t about inventing a new kind of rehabilitation, it’s about using what already exists in healthcare facilities and placing them back into context”. 

Having gone through such a rewarding and thorough project & design process, I asked Rosann what was the next step for her in her career?

I have been invited to future Stroke Forums in the UK by a doctor I was working with at Charing Cross Hospital. I really hope to be able to use this as a platform to reach out to those who are interested in looking for opportunities to improve facilities for stroke survivors and open up a conversation about collaborations across disciplines between the NHS, healthcare workers and designers. It would be a dream of mine to make this a reality.

Rosann Ling

Photography | Drawings & Video – Rosann Ling

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