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NBBJ creates interactive forest display at California children’s hospital


American architecture studio NBBJ has created a series of interactive media displays in a California children’s hospital to ease young patients’ anxiety.

Designed by the NBBJ’s New York experience design studio ESI Design, the installations consist of screens that display a native California landscape where children can create animal characters to release into the wild.

A digital display in a hospital
NBBJ and ESI Design have created an interactive media display for a children’s hospital

It is located at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital (LLUCH) outside of Los Angeles. The team wanted to install a feature to quell the nerves of young patients entering the hospital for surgeries and other appointments.

The studio created an interactive digital forest display called Loma Land that spans five screens built into a lobby wall, and is accompanied by an audio soundtrack.

Oval media displays built into wall
It was created to ease the worries of young patients

“Loma Land will greet young patients with an idyllic forest of animated creatures, rustling plants and the gentle sounds of flowing water,” said the team.

Along the digital experience, which spans 415 square feet (38 square metres), children select an animal companion, customise its fur, add accessories, and then release it into the “wild”.

Kid standing in front of screen in hospital
It spans a lobby wall with multiple screens

Children select and customize their animals just outside security gates, within three oval-shaped touchscreens. There, they pick animals native to the surrounding California landscape including a fox, bear, deer and raccoon.

Moving along the screens, they can select from a variety of brightly-coloured fur and add accessories, including an acorn hat, leaf mask and grass top hat.

A large screen in a hospital
Children can select and design an animal companion as they enter the hospital

Once the animal is made, children can interact with it one-on-one via a fourth screen, or pass through the security gates, where the creature is released into a larger landscape that’s displayed on a 60-foot-wide (18-metre) screen.

As children and parents walk past the landscape and further into the hospital, the animal can be seen interacting with creatures created by other children and roaming around a forested environment.

Digital display in hospital
After creating a creature, they can then release it into the “wild”

“When it came time to design Loma Land, the greatest challenge became the fact there is truly nothing quite like it,” said the team.

“So, the team looked for inspiration from libraries, children’s museums and games. These cultural media experiences motivated the team to incorporate elements such as character play, active and passive disruption, and collaborative composition.”

Kid touching a screen with a bear on it
The team incorporated native plants and animals into the display

The team surveyed a group of children and their families to select the digital setting for the installation, with the majority preferring a natural environment.

ESRI Design incorporated native trees and shrubs into the environment to provide further familiarity and comfort.

The team believes the Loma Land concept could be incorporated into other hospitals and expanded across LLUCH to meet future needs.

“While this innovation is truly remarkable, what makes it especially relevant to today’s healthcare system is the fact it can be easily replicated by any hospital that has the vision to transform the patient experience from one of dread into one of delight,” said the team.

Parent and child smiling at screen
The concept was designed to be replicated and expanded throughout the hospital and others

They also noted additional displays could include different environments and plush toys of the animals could be incorporated into gift shops for an “offline” experience as an extension of the concept.

The team also prioritized the use of projectors when possible, instead of LED screens, in the interest of making the displays easier to clean as the display wall simply needs to be sanitized.

NBBJ recently collaborated with Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers on a LA Playground and created a pediatric clinic in Seattle with “no blank walls”.

The photography is by Sean Airhart


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