Lofty ceilings frame a towering wall of glass that fills the atrium with light. Patients, families and visitors lounge in citrus orange chairs and quickly you will notice a sublime, three-story digital array of LCD's filled with color that transforms from greens to golds then blues to oranges. The dramatic installation looks like a giant aquatic mural filled with floating bubbles and sparkles. Children and adults stand at the base of the interactive wall. They hold their arms over their head or spin as if dancing to a silent soundtrack.
The entire lobby is colorful, calming and most likely, you will hear a child say "Mom can we make more bubbles?" Hospital design is in the midst of a revolution and the outcome is a sudden awakening in patient engagement. Hospitals, especially children’s hospitals, are challenged to improve patient experience placing it at the center of their architectural planning. Enhancing patient experience will reduce patient stress and make the hospital a more inviting place to be.
Patient Experience Design
Hospital designers at UCSF are at the forefront of innovative pediatric hospital design. They partnered with OUVA during the early stages of the expansion’s planning and development. UCSF saw our work at Nemours/Alfred I. du Pont Hospital and asked us to create a dramatic experience that captured visitor’s imagination, welcomed patients into the lobby and created a sense of calm and wonder. We decided to fuse innovation, interactivity, artistry and some risk, and they were thrilled.
OUVA studied other art installations planned for the campus. The design of our interactive was partly inspired by Jessica Stockholder’s installation at the hospital. Drawing on her language of intersecting shapes, overlapping layers, negative spaces, and vibrant colors. We created an installation with a dynamic color palette set to inspire patient and visitor movement in the lobby area and encouraged social interactions between patients and their families. Our ultimate goal was to help to instill a sense of wonder and joy for every visitor that came through the doors.
The Interactive Experience
The Bubble Wall (as we affectingly call it) is a three-story interactive digital wall where visitors create large-scale colorful nebulous shapes using gesture-based interaction. Soft bubble shapes, created when users make a shape with their body, float towards the ceiling and grow in size, changing their shape as they ascend up the wall. Over 350 people interact with the wall in a 24 hour period. 6000 bubbles are created each day and, on average, 15 people play with the experience for more than 2 minutes with the interaction.
Via an iPad adjacent to the installation, visitors watch their interaction and share a recorded video of their experience through text and email. The system automatically starts recording a short video clip as soon as someone enters the field of the camera. As children and their families use their bodies to create bubble shapes they discover different ways to make shapes appear on the wall. This is one of the most exciting elements of the experience. It offers a special moment that feels natural and unencumbered by instructions or diagrams.