Brightening up a children's hospital with LED lights 


As the children walked among the trees, the woodland creatures greeted them. As the horses, deer, birds, and frogs appeared like magic, a look of wonderment sparked inside each child’s eyes.
Brightening up a children’s hospital with LED lights
Though this scene may seem directly out of a fairytale, really it occurs every day at the Great Ormond Street Hospital. Using LED lights, Jason Bruges Studio designed “Nature Trail,” an interactive installation that transports children from the bleak reality of the hospital into a majestic forest.

Between the daunting medical equipment, anxiety inducing procedures and separation from their homes, friends, and hobbies, a hospital can be an intimidating place for a child. In order to combat the cold stereotype and improve the patient experience, hospitals, like Great Ormond Street, are using the interactivity of LED light to add some brightness to their pediatric wards.
Brightening up a children’s hospital with LED lights
Photo courtesy of Jason Bruges Studio

Providing a calm and distracting route into the anesthetic ward, Nature Trail is among these installations using light to tap into their patients’ imaginations. Dispersed behind the walls are 70 panels of LED lights with animations of moving animals. On top of the panels is wallpaper of a forest scene, making it look like the light creatures are moving through the trees. As if the animals have arrived just for the kids, the lights are triggered by motion sensors that are located at varying eye levels to accommodate patients of many ages, as well as in wheelchairs and hospital beds. 
Photo courtesy of Jason Bruges Studio
Photo courtesy of Jason Bruges Studio

Jason Bruges, founder and creative director of Jason Bruges Studio, describes the experience as a “dream project,” adding that it was an honor to be able to create true moments of distraction and fascination in the hospital environment. “Nature Trail” will soon mesmerize even more children as it is anticipated to expand into a new building of the hospital by 2016.
Photo courtesy of Jason Bruges Studio
Photo courtesy of Jason Bruges Studio

Another installation easing the transition to and from a medical environment is The Ronald McDonald VU Kinderstad experience tunnel, at the VU Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. When children leave the pediatric ward of this hospital, they embark on an entrancing journey into Kinderstad, a miniature city designed for children to escape the hospital without leaving the building. Featuring a football pitch, an interactive racecar, a radio station, craft supplies, and plenty of toys, Kinderstad allows children in the hospital to do what kids do best, play. The entrance into this land consists of translucent plastic walls with dynamic LED lights underneath. As the kids pass through, the tunnel changes colors and performs animations of rainbows, raindrops, and swaying grass.
Photo courtesy of Jason Bruges Studio
“The illumination makes children enormously happy,” says Marike Peer, governor of the Ronald McDonald VU Kinderstad. “The color changes often enchant some of them so much that they freeze in the middle of the tunnel, while others start running around.”
Photo courtesy of Mikyoung Kim Design
Similar to Kinderstad, the Crown Sky Garden in the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is a much-needed sanctuary for children in the hospital. World-renowned landscape architect Mikyoung Kim based her design for the garden on research that suggests natural light and contemplative gardens to have restorative properties. The result was a peaceful, contemplative, and fun oasis for patients and their families. As if inside a greenhouse, the space is encased with glass walls, immersing the room in sunlight and providing spectacular views of the city. In addition to the bright natural light, the garden makes guest feel as though they are outside by including elements like tall bamboo trees, reclaimed wood, nature sounds, and an LED light wall that represents a flowing stream of water.
Photo courtesy of Mikyoung Kim Design
Designed by Tellart, a company that creates interactive installations across the globe, the “Light Wall” frames the bamboo grove. This curved wall consists of transparent, colored resin panels made of recycled materials. Inside these panels are LED lights that, when at rest, perform calming water-like scenes. When activity is nearby, the wall then comes to life with vibrant color changing animations and nature sounds, pleasantly surprising the children who discover the power they have to activate the installation.

“It’s an incredible privilege to be involved in a project that can improve the lives of these families every day, even if it’s just for a moment,” says Katie Schon, chief strategy officer of Tellart. Schon has witnessed the enthusiasm for the garden, and now these benefits will be put to the test when the hospital conducts research about how this space impacts stress levels of patients and their families.

This study will be among the many working to confirm the benefit of patient-centered lighting. As evidence is released, more and more hospitals are implementing lighting that aids in recovery time, is customizable to the each patient’s needs, and creates a more pleasant environment. This is why these sort of interactive light installations are appearing more and more in pediatric wards across the globe.
Photo courtesy of Mikyoung Kim Design
It seems so simple, yet for a child the difference between a frightening time in the hospital and a pleasant recovery may be as simple as bright lights. This is because both the possibilities of LED technology and a child’s imagination are endless. Combined, the two can transport children out of the hospital and into an enchanting forest, a dream city for kids, or an interactive garden.
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