The Hill, John Radcliffe Hospital, Headington, Oxford, 2016 – present.

For this project in several phases, OB1 LIVE collaborated with “The Hill”, a digital wellbeing ideas lab based at the John Radcliffe Hospital. The purpose of this live project was to develop a brief for a Hub building to serve as a focus for the public engagement and entrepreneurial activities of The Hill.

The Hill aims to improve and promote wellbeing through the use of digital technologies. They bring together patients, carers, healthcare professionals, academics, digital experts and entrepreneurs. They stimulate and support their ideas to improve wellbeing through digital technology and they help them to realise these ideas by stimulating collaboration and providing support. The Hill were keen that the architecture itself would promote wellbeing and also that it was welcoming to all of their users, avoiding an institutional or hospital-like atmosphere.

Phase 1, “Healthy Buildings”, involved the design and construction of full scale prototype Fragments of the Hub building that explored the potential of the architecture itself to promote wellbeing. Students worked in groups to design and construct prototypes. These were installed in the atrium of Oxford Brookes School of Architecture as part of a consultation event. Members and supporters of The Hill tested each prototype and gave their feedback to the designers. Prototypes included a wall that flexed to become surfaces for sitting, meeting and display; a chandelier device enabled user engagement to adjust shadow and pattern; a room divider allowed occupants to customise the privacy and light quality of their space via an expanding and contracting network of cubes.

Phase 2 was an individual project to design the complete Digital Wellbeing Hub building. Proposals for this 5x5m flexible space included space divisions inspired by the mutation of cells, a multi-level space that connected different departments of the hospital and an expanding space that also served as a set for the broadcast of TED Talks. The multiple solutions proposed by students expanded the brief and enabled a rich range of options for The Hill to consider.

The work from Phase 1 and 2 was exhibited at the Churchill Hospital in 2017 to enable further opportunities for feedback and consultation.

Phase 3 was undertaken in the next academic year. Some of the students involved in the first two phases continued their involvement when they moved into Year 2, working with Year 3 students in Unit A. This phase involved research into the NHS as an organisation; a design competition for an overall Hub building design selected by The Hill; groupwork to develop the detailed design of the Hub; construction of the Hub’s superstructure; and a final speculative project to design a future expanded version of the Hub.

Collaborators: Dr. Nick de Pennington, Dr. Alexander Finlayson, Dr. Richie Harrington, Dr. Sian Rees, Dr. Felix Greaves, Caroline Heason, Jo Lennon, The Hill, John Radcliffe Hospital, Public Health England, AHSN, DHOX.

OB1 LIVE Tutors (2016-17): Jane Anderson. Ruth Cuenca, Pouya Zamanpour, Will Fisher, Ralph Saull, Maija Viksne, John Ashton, Michael Bell, Khisha Clarke.

Unit A Tutors (2017-18): Theo Molloy and Tom Randall-Page (Unit Tutors); Ongjen Ristic and Richard Prest (Technology Tutors); Martin Waters (Structures Tutor); Jane Anderson and Ruth Cuenca (Design Diary Supervision).

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