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Work in Progress: St Columba’s Hospice

St Columba’s Hospice opened in 1977 initially based in Challenger Lodge, a Georgian building located in the conservation district of Trinity, Edinburgh.  Over the years the hospice has grown significantly.  In 2008, Newcastle-based architects Jane Darbyshire & David Kendall Ltd (JDDK) were commissioned to lead a £22m phased redevelopment refurbishing and developing the site to provide the very latest facilities for palliative care.

Working with JDDK, we began looking at this project two years ago when the redevelopment was at the planning stage.  The brief was for a clear, understated and non-institutional sign scheme which would sit sensitively within the listed areas and the interior finishes (more boutique hotel than medical facility) while maintaining the best practice principles of the DDA.

The first priority was to establish suitable budgets for each phase which would then be built into the project costs (subject to the approval of the QS).  We are often asked to do this and work off floor plans, identifying sign types, material specifications and key decision making points for wayfinding.  This stage is all about understanding the project vision, drawing on experience and applying judgement, ensuring the budget is sufficient and realistic (the finite details follow later).

The first phase, 17 Boswall Road, is now approaching completion.  The listed building circa 1815 was originally a house built by Donald Pollock the Chancellor of Edinburgh University.  The conversion turns it to office and learning space over three floors, with rear facing rooms providing stunning views of the Firth of Forth (they have to be seen to be believed). Original features such as doors and fireplaces have been retained with new elements featuring the contemporary use of stone, glass, stainless steel and oak.

Fitting a sign scheme into any 19th Century building can be extremely demanding — typically space is limited and journeys can be complicated, making a pre-manufacture survey essential. With this in mind we recently visited the site and went through every sign with the client, firstly checking all the details and then walking the site to make sure that we are putting things in the places they are needed, the proportions are correct, how they will be fixed, what terms will be used, the final choice of colours and typeface — the finite detail mentioned earlier.  This is where our budget proposal is put to the test !  Often compromises are required and sizes adapted accordingly. Wherever possible we try to maintain consistency with fixing heights so the signs are read on the same plane throughout the building.

Detailed drawings and amended plans showing sign locations are now back with the client for a final check through.  Once these are signed off and all parties are happy we will start manufacture.  Installation is scheduled for the end of November.

Fitting a sign scheme into any 19th Century building can be extremely demanding — typically space is limited and journeys can be complicated… this is where our budget proposal is put to the test !

 

 

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