Viewing Device for the Planet

Nuffield Hospital, Cambridge 2015

Viewing Device for the Planet uses the glazing throughout a new hospital to create a series of drawings that conceptually transport the viewer to far away points on the globe. Selected drawings, made over the last 15 years, have been sand-blasted into the glass of windows and doors to create subtle frosted line-drawings.



In each case though, the drawing has been etched into a window that faces in the exact direction of where this drawing was actually made. For each row of glazing, the direction of the windows (compass bearing) was first measured and then a drawing selected from the archive that was made somewhere on the planet that lies on this exact compass bearing. The drawing was then etched into the glass of the hospital window so that the viewer looks out of the window through a drawing of a distant scene – a scene that lies far away but in the exact direction they are looking.  For instance, the windows of the entrance façade look 295º towards a series of drawings made whilst traveling up the St Lawrence River in Canada.




The scale and labyrinthine nature of hospital buildings can create a very disorienting experience. The visitor tends to lose connection with the world outside and become lost in the endless similar corridors and wards. The aim of the drawings is to create a distinctive sense of place throughout the hospital but also, more importantly, to engage the senses and mind of the patient/visitor with something outside the immediate raw facts of health, bodies and illness. Taken collectively, the drawings conceptually anchor the hospital within the wider world – stretching people’s imagination to far flung places around the planet rather than leaving them feeling lost in a utilitarian hospital context.


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