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WiWillis Newson, Bristol Heart Institute, artists Rob Blake and Jan Olins

Willis Newson: Bristol Heart Institute

An award-winning public art scheme that saw the integration of a series of artworks within the newly-built Bristol Heart Institute.

In 2007 Willis Newson was commissioned by University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust to deliver a public art strategy for the new £61m Bristol Heart Institute, designed to be a regional centre of excellence for cardiac care.

Working closely with the Trust, project architects Coda, and the builders Laing O’Rourke, Willis Newson managed the development of a public art strategy for the new building, opened to patients in spring 2009.Eight stunning integrated artworks are the result. These range from a suspended sculpture in the atrium and an entrance lighting commission, to works for the ceilings of patient bed lifts. The programme aimed to support the patient’s journey through the building and to create a sense of local ownership and pride. The artworks contribute to wellbeing by making the hospital environment feel less institutional and clinical, but no less functional. This project won the Building Better Healthcare Award for the Best Use of Visual Art in Healthcare 2009.

This project was particularly successful because the commissioning of public art was integrated into the design and build of the new facility early in the process. Good working relationships were maintained between the arts team and the architects and builders and staff and patient groups were involved – creating a sense of ownership for the finished works. Considerable thought also went into ensuring that each commission would relate to and enhance the others. The process was further aided by the input of a very committed Arts Steering Group including representation from all parties involved.

. “… the artworks integrate really well with the overall building design. The process we went through to deliver them was also exemplary in terms of working together and this was a major factor in the success of the project.” Dave Leverton, RIBA, Regional Design Leader, Laing O’Rourke

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