Abarbanel Mental Health Center Makers’ Hall for Kids & Teens

The Abarbanel Hospital Makers’ Hall is one of three projects commissioned by the philanthropic organization Sasa Setton that our design studio had the pleasure and privilege to reimagine. Although a compact area of 35sqm, every nook, cranny and corner of this makers’ hall was designed for young patients and teenagers alike to explore and heal through arts and crafts.

As part of the design brief, our studio was asked to develop an identifiable and common language for the three projects that could be repeated in the development of future learning spaces. We knew we wanted to create alternative spaces that invite these children/young adults to have a different experience, one that they otherwise would not be able to have in a hospital environment.
More than 120,000 children are hospitalized each year in general, psychiatric and rehabilitative hospitals in Israel. By law, they are entitled to educational activities even during their period of hospitalization. One of the challenges facing the educational services for the young inpatients is to be precise and adapt the response to the different ages and developmental needs of each child. “This sense of normalcy, empowerment and creativity, precisely during the period of hospitalization, is something that is very, very important to us,” says Einat Nahari-Karko, principal of the "Shahaf" school at Abarbanel.
Abarbanel makers’ hall was designed as both a therapeutic and functional space, with an emphasis on arts and crafts. We believe that a good, aesthetic and pleasant environment affects the emotional and physical well-being of adults and children, strengthening their healthy side and accelerating their recovery/healing process. 
The design challenge of this project was to simultaneously address the specific educational, functional needs while still maintaining a feeling of generous space, airiness and a pleasant atmosphere. The space needed to fit all the defined activity stations including a clay kiln, a ceramic printer, a 3D printer, robotics, a corner for textile prints, sewing machines, and an embroidery machine just to name a few. In the center of the space, we designed a group of tables that allow for group work, but can also be separated to enable individual work. As Nahari-Karko explains, children will be able to “...design their own bedding, and achieve, beyond personalization and the creation of a unique personal product, a sense of home even in the hospital.”
The aesthetic we chose allows for a variety of activities and encourages the joy of creation, while still maintaining a sense of peace and order without overstimulation. We tried to use very durable materials, and a formalistic design language, combining geometric shapes with a limited color palette. It has the warm Scandinavian qualities with a lot of white, but also includes splashes of red and blue, encouraging smiles from all those who enter it. 

Interior & furniture design: Sarit Shani Hay
Photography: Roni Cnaani
Commissioned by Sasa Setton Foundation for the Abarbanel Mental Health Center

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