Hackney-based Studio Weave has constructed a network of listening pipes in a back courtyard of London's Great Ormond Street Hospital to create a secret factory of lullabies for children (+ slideshow).
The enclosed space was created by the construction of a new building at the historic children's hospital and will remain until its neighbour is eventually demolished. Studio Weave designed the installation to occupy the space in the interim and has named it the Lullaby Factory.
The architects were inspired by the messy pipes and drainage systems that already cover the surface of the brick walls. Instead of covering them up, they chose to add to them with a wide-spanning framework of pipes and horns.
"We have designed a fantasy landscape reaching 10 storeys in height and 32 metres in length, which can engage the imagination of everyone, from patients and parents to hospital staff, by providing an interesting and curious world to peer out onto," explain architects Je Ahn and Maria Smith.
Different types of metal create pipes of silver, gold and bronze, and some of the taps and gauges were recycled from a decommissioned hospital boilerhouse.
Sound artist Jessica Curry composed the soundtrack of lullabies, which are played out through each of the pipes. To listen in, patients and staff can place an ear over one of the listening pipes beside the canteen.
The music is also transmitted via a radio frequency, so patients on the wards can tune in too.
Lullaby Factory, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children Studio Weave with Structure Workshop, AB3 Workshops and Jessica Curry
Studio Weave has transformed an awkward exterior space landlocked by buildings into the Lullaby Factory – a secret world that cannot be seen except from inside the hospital and cannot be heard by the naked ear, only by tuning in to its radio frequency or from a few special listening pipes.
The multi-phased redevelopment of Great Ormond Street Hospital, in London's Bloomsbury area, means that the recently completed Morgan Stanley Clinical Building and the 1930s Southwood Building currently sit very close together. The latter is due to be demolished in 15 years, but in the intervening period large windows in the west elevation of the MSCB look directly onto a pipe-ridden brickwork facade, with the gap between the two less than one metre in places.
In our competition entry we proposed that the Southwood Building, with its oodles of mysterious pipes and plant is not really the Southwood Building, but the Lullaby Factory, manufacturing and releasing gentle, beautiful lullabies to create a calming and uplifting environment for the young patients to recover in.
Our aim for this project was to re-imagine the Southwood façade as the best version of itself, accepting and celebrating its qualities and oddities; and rather than hiding what is difficult, creating something unique and site specific.
We have designed a fantasy landscape reaching 10 storeys in height and 32 metres in length, which can engage the imagination of everyone, from patients and parents to hospital staff, by providing an interesting and curious world to peer out onto. Aesthetically the Lullaby Factory is a mix of an exciting and romantic vision of industry, and the highly crafted beauty and complexity of musical instruments.
The Lullaby Factory consists of two complimentary elements: the physical factory that appears to carry out the processes of making lullabies and the soundscape. Composer and sound artist Jessica Curry has composed a brand new lullaby especially for the project, which children can engage with through listening pipes next to the canteen or from the wards by tuning into a special radio station.
Our design is mindful of the fact that the space between the two buildings is very tight and any attempt to tidy it up too much would have resulted in significantly reducing the sense of space and the amount of daylight reaching inside the surrounding buildings.
Above: concept sketch
We hope the project will inspire engagement in a variety of ways from children's paintings to a resource for play specialists to a generator for future commissions.
Our design incorporates old tap and gauges reclaimed from a hospital boilerhouse that was in the process of being decommissioned.