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The challenge

Located within the South London and Maudsley Denmark Hill Campus, The Centre for Mental Health Research and Innovation at 5 Windsor Walk will be one of the first standalone facilities in the UK dedicated to accelerating psychedelic research and developing new models of care.

The solution

The idea of a hospital, where the treatment was previously taking place, has been completely dissolved. In the previous setting staff members were forced to amend a hospital bedroom as best they could to create a soft and relaxing setting vital to the mental journey taking place within the room. The new centre has been designed specifically for the needs of this particular patient group and will contribute to a much smoother and more positive experience for both the service user and the staff.

The existing Victorian building was very run down and in a state of disrepair. Classical features were retained or replaced where possible to preserve the building’s historic character. Modern finishes and furniture were carefully considered to respect and compliment the building’s heritage. This was achieved through simple, neutral styling to frame and enhance classical features.

The impact

The external face of the building and existing sash windows have been repaired and restored in keeping with the interior fit out and wider site context. Elements of the design can be customised by patients to assist them in feeling relaxed and comfortable. Therapy rooms feature multisensory lighting with colour change dimmable features which patients can adjust themselves to create their preferred mood and atmosphere. Bespoke joinery has been used to make best use of the limited space. Sofas in the therapy rooms have been designed with flexibility in mind and can be used as beds or sofas as required or preferred by the patient.

All finishes and fittings are suitable for busy commercial environments and have long life cycles. Risk was designed out as much as possible with good levels of observation, soft edges to fittings and discreet staff call alarms Artwork in the form of woolen feature panels comprising hand stitched designs in neutral, soothing colours enhance the acoustic attenuation and provide a natural feature for the service user to engage with during treatment. Internal walls have been specified to a very high acoustic level to prevent noise, which could cause alarm or discomfort to the patient, transferring between rooms.

Restoration of original features such as sash windows, plaster cornicing, moulded architraves and skirting, reduced construction waste and limited the purchase of new materials. Where new furniture and finishes were required, it was ensured that these were suitable for a BREEAM excellent building. The refurbishment provides a centre of excellence for the research and advancement of psilocybin therapy, a potential innovative drug for treatment-resistant depression, and has enabled the commencement of clinical trials. The centre will be instrumental in supporting studies and research which aim to tackle the rising mental health needs of the population.

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