CAMHS Edinburgh

Projects Office, Edinburgh, 2019



Photography by French + Tye     Download Original

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Design for good mental health: a radically different clinical space for young people, designed through conversations with young patients, NHS staff, parents and carers.

Projects Office designed the interiors and courtyard features of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) unit for 5-18 year olds at Edinburgh’s new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People.

Directly informed by workshops and conversations with end-users, the scheme is a colourful, light-filled ‘third space’: neither hospital nor home, but a healing space with its own identity. This new architectural language promotes and protects good mental health, establishing interior environments as a critical part of the healing toolkit.

A few key features and spaces
Space to retreat: young people suffering severe distress need privacy, while remaining visible to staff. Upholstered nooks nestled into cabinetry and an inhabitable ‘lighthouse’ offer safe retreats within communal spaces.

- Flexible spaces: for many teenagers, bedrooms are sacred. Yet CAMHS bedrooms are where families meet, which can feel uncomfortable. Movable furniture within a ligature-safe fit-out, together with personalisable features enable different spatial arrangements - interventions with powerful implications for supporting intimate conversations in stressful circumstances.

- Coastal theme: the sea was frequently referenced in relation to good mental health. Designs mediated from ‘seaside’ to ‘rugged east coast’, creating age-appropriate, aesthetically coherent spaces.

- Efficient use of space and materials: to optimise a tight budget and minimise waste, innovative use of ‘standard’ materials was made, including patterned linoleum floors, plywood fittings and standard hospital furniture upholstered in bold patterns. The ‘kit of parts’ approach provided a catalogue of easily implementable features, furniture and fittings.

- Comfortable lighting: carefully modulated lighting and vaulted ceilings with feature ‘skylights’ reflect changing light conditions outside.

- “Third space”: a new language for clinical environments which are NHS compliant but a bold departure from traditional health spaces.

Annual CO2 emissions data (requested in kg/m2/year) was not provided.


  • Begun: Sep 2018
  • Completed: Sep 2019
  • Sector: Healthcare
  • Funding: Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity and NHS Lothian
  • Tender date: Apr 2017
  • Procurement: Traditional procurement. Bespoke contract.
  • Address: Royal Hospital for Children & Young People, 50 Little France Crescent, Edinburgh, EH16 4TJ, United Kingdom

Professional Team