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Callington Road Hospital, Bristol, 2006

Cafe Furniture

"The showpiece... is the cafe furniture by Angus Ross. This sculptural centre-piece is a series of four interconnected curved benches. These unite the space, give it a focal point and link the furniture to the structural columns of the building itself. They create an informal gathering point for staff and users ... Clinicians have already commented on how they stop and chat to others in a way not experienced elsewhere. The sinuous forms and curves, the sheer beauty of the large bulks of timber and the craftsmanship in the making are remarkable - the piece exudes pride care and sophistication."
Susan Francis - architectural advisor for the future healthcare network, NHS confederation.

We were commissioned by Willis-Newson arts consultancy on behalf of Avon and Wiltshire NHS Trust to design and make the cafe furniture for a new mental health hospital in Bristol. As part of our research, we participated in workshops with staff and service users, where we gained an understanding of some of the important issues relating to mental health.

The reception/cafe area of the hospital is a crucial interface between the public, staff and service users. The sculptural multilayered construction was designed to create an interactive focal centrepiece to link the reception area and the cafe. It consists of four interconnected curved benches at four heights (bar, table, stool, and seat) enabling the space to be utilised in a variety of ways. This included steam-bent tables and chairs and four interconnected benches at bar, table, stool and chair heights improving flow through the space and enabling the space to be utilised in different ways.

More conventionally, the seating requirements of the cafe are provided by eight circular 'butterfly' tables and accompanying seats. They are constructed out of solid native ash using traditional chair-making skills - steam bent frames interlocked with turned stretchers for strength, coupled with solid tops and laminated plywood seats.

Walnut Tree Bench

We were also commissioned to make a bench to be situated under the only original mature tree left on the site. The multi-stemmed walnut with a large spreading canopy, becomes a highlight of the re-landscaped grounds. The intention of the bench is to provide an appealing place to sit, to encourage people to pause and enjoy the surroundings and to provide a social meeting point.

The curved multi-segmented multi-legged bench is articulated to accomodate the uneven ground and sculpted for comfort.

The bench is manufactured out of air dried English oak, which, being durable is left unfinished to gently 'silver' over time.