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Work in Progress: James Cook University Hospital

We were invited to tender for an NHS style internal sign package for a hospital project in Middlesbrough at the beginning of this year — blue and white signs based on using an aluminium sign system.  Our bid was accepted giving us an opportunity to renew a successful relationship with Interserve, having worked with them on a large scale site for the Inland Revenue seven years ago.  It was our first time working with the architect P+HS.

The project is a £35m upgrade of essential facilities at James Cook University Hospital, comprising a fully refurbished chemotherapy unit located within the main hospital and a brand new Oncology building, The Endeavour Unit.  This is a state of the art treatment centre housing the very latest radiotherapy equipment, set in a humanistic environment with an emphasis on natural light, quality finishes and artwork.

Working with the project team, it was decided that a softer, less institutional type of sign scheme would be more appropriate.  The NHS corporate typeface Frutiger was retained together with best practice guidelines for type size, contrast, the use of pictograms and sign fixing heights.  Colours were changed to grey with white graphics and a feature strip to tie in with the interior design in the Chemotherapy and Oncology locations.  The specification became single panel signs with decorative fixings, three dimensional pictograms and Braille and tactile graphics on toilet doors.

External signs were added to our scope of work, branding and identifying the new building.  These were fabricated in aluminium with a special bronze finish which we sourced to match other architectural details.

The project team were very keen to have a show piece sign on the side of the building.  We presented several options for this and halo illuminated three dimensional letters using energy efficient LEDs were selected.  Achieving this proved to be technically challenging — because of the radiotherapy treatments, the best location for this sign was a wall backed up in solid concrete which meant any wiring would have to remain on the outside of the building, while the only place to locate a power supply was at the far end of the wall.  We solved this by housing all the wiring and the transformers within an underline which is connected to the power supply at the end of the letters.  Our installation team did an excellent job of fixing the letters and concealing the wires.

Six months on and we have just completed the last phase, ready for building handover at the end of the month.  The facilities will serve a local population of 1.1 million.

(left) External halo illuminated letters in bronze finish (right) Internal wayfinding

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