By Toby Ingle, Associate Director, Corstorphine & Wright

The co-design workshop for the Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease marks the start of an intense period of design for the project and these workshops began at the beginning of October and are progressing nicely. 

What is co-design? Put simply, it is designing the building collaboratively with the help and knowledge of the people who will use it, so for us, that’s the staff, patients, their relatives, and broader healthcare professionals.

What’s most interesting about these sessions is that they are a great opportunity to go beyond the official project brief and ask people face to face what they need from the building, what it means to them and what the building can do to support the way all users whether staff, patient or their relatives make use of the building. 

staff, patients and families at the first engagement session for the Rob Burrow Centre for MND

Typically, at the start of creating a new facility we receive a list of rooms that are required, this is just a starting point. However, a list of rooms, is just that – a list. The workshops enrich our understanding of what the building should be, going beyond the physical space. By listening to the stories of people who come to the current unit at Seacroft Hospital, we got a richer understanding of how the building can support the emotion and feeling of all building users whether it is patients and their families or those working there. 

We spent some of the first session testing and understanding some of the elements of the brief, such as ‘no corridors’. We discussed elements such as ‘when a corridor is not a corridor’, making them spaces that are not just a route between rooms – but as a place to stop, take a breath, collect thoughts, or have a chat.

Read More: Rob Burrow Centre for MND Blog: The journey so far

Two activities we worked through in the workshop are ‘5 key words’ and a ‘look and feel’ exercise. The first exercise let all the stakeholders describe their wants and needs for the new building, whilst the ‘look and feel’ exercise used images of other buildings to add another level of detail to the words. Overwhelmingly, community came to the forefront of discussions. A community of staff, patients, family, friends and now the design team to bring this building to life. A building which supports honest and open discussions, a building which can be lighthearted as well as serious, a flagship facility for Leeds and the Yorkshire region.

Hearing and seeing with our own eyes what the community wants the new centre to be, has fundamentally informed how we will design the new building, from its location on the site and the materials we build it from to the furniture that we specify and the colours and textures we weave throughout the building and landscape.  

 Word cloud sharing words captured at engagement session to describe the Rob Burrow Centre for MND

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