Designing for the Mind

Mental health services play a vital role in society – one that is only becoming more important as greater longevity brings an accompanying rise in cases of degenerative brain disease, and disorders such as anxiety and depression increase.

Meeting New Standards of Care

Service providers face many challenges. They must expand capacity as the baby-boomer generation approaches old age and provide a growing range of specialist services to support patients with diverse needs. Many existing facilities are in need of modernization to improve accommodation and meet new standards of care. And as hospitals and treatment centres are becoming more society-facing to improve awareness of mental health issues or raise funding for vital patient care and research, safety and security remain key priorities for patients, families, staff and communities.


Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health

Ever-Evolving Mental Health Facilities

Modern mental health facilities are continually evolving, and the transformation continues with new technology and deeper understanding of the provision of care. Aside from facilitating responsive and compassionate treatment, today buildings may fulfil many other roles, from helping patients to reintegrate back into society to changing attitudes to mental health and facilitating ground-breaking research.

Engineering Solutions for Innovative Approaches to Mental Health

We support our clients to set new standards by combining world-class therapeutic design with innovation in materials, technologies and construction techniques. The Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, for example, offers a patient experience that is second-to-none with a stunning space for revenue-generating events. Meanwhile, at the Long Bay correctional complex in New South Wales, our security and communications specialists helped to create a benign, healing environment to foster rehabilitation within a high-security forensic hospital.

It’s on designs like this where our use of advanced modelling tools really comes into its own –accuracy is crucial when almost every steel connection has to be individually fabricated, or when a secure perimeter is paramount. And we know that just because our clients want to take a fresh approach, there can be no compromise when it comes to delivering on time and on budget.


Hafan y Coed, the Adult Mental Health Unit

Managing Resources Effectively

Changing demographics and better understanding of mental illness are creating greater need, while expectations of care and facilities themselves are becoming much higher. Meeting demand means managing resources effectively – financial, natural and, most importantly, the time and energy of healthcare staff. Our design teams help providers to do this in buildings that are meticulously tailored to their requirements and systems that perform faultlessly in high-pressure situations – while ensuring that they are always cost-effective to construct, operate and maintain.

Sustainable Design

As specialists not only in the mental health sector but environmentally sustainable design, we’ve delivered some of the world’s most efficient buildings. We understand how to minimise energy and water consumption and maximise fresh air and natural light without compromising safety, as at Cardiff’s new adult mental health unit. This pioneering BREEAM Excellent facility is powered by an array of photovoltaic panels with dual fuel boilers and generators to ensure security of supply.

Our teams are also skilled at sustainable design and planning that complement the wellbeing of patients – the Joseph & Rosalie Segal Family Health Centre in British Columbia offers private, en-suite rooms, green spaces and dedicated areas for a range of therapeutic activities, within an exemplar building that will achieve LEED Gold performance.


Joseph & Rosalie Segal Family Health Centre

Providing Home-Like Environment

Healthcare providers need facilities that can incorporate new ideas and approaches to a range of disorders. As experts in mental health design, we support healthcare providers to explore new ways of providing services, safe in the knowledge that they can meet the most demanding clinical and security standards.

Creating more home-like environments has become a driving ambition for many of our clients, so we support them with engineering solutions that offer privacy and comfort in an attractive range of spaces, from internal art galleries and meditation spaces, to family play areas and rooftop gardens. Award-winning Roseberry Park in the UK and New York’s Zucker Hillside Hospital are great examples of making this concepts a reality.

We can offer expert help with IT, communications and audio-visual technologies too, to provide features such as full wireless connectivity and bedside patient registration, or interactivity to stimulate the senses of patients with severe mental illness – at the Zucker, we helped to create floors that seem to ripple to the touch.


Roseberry Park Hospital

Adapting for the Future

However pressing the demands of today, mental health care providers can’t afford to ignore the future. Demographic trends promise a sharp rise in patients with increasingly complex needs, while climate change will make comfort and safety a moving target as the century progresses.

WSP has worked with many providers to future-proof their buildings, providing strategic advice, masterplanning and an array of specialist engineering services. We support them to leverage the greatest value from their existing estates and find the best solutions for their communities, now and for the years to come. Where a complete redevelopment is not possible, we apply lateral thinking and new design and construction technologies to transform outdated buildings to meet modern standards of care.


Zucker Hillside Hospital

From Future Expansions to Adaptable Building Systems

Our teams work closely with clients to ensure that mental health facilities will be able to meet changing needs or can be cost-effectively expanded – foundations and structures to support the addition of extra floors, for example, or alternative room configurations. Mental health environments will continue to impose tough demands on building systems, especially as sufferers of mental illness are among the most at-risk groups from overheating, often unable to take action when temperatures become dangerously high.

Planning is not only essential for the future – we always plan projects carefully too using the latest building design tools. That way, we can minimize disruption to operational facilities during refurbishment or neighbouring construction work, so they can carry on their vital work unaffected.

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Mental Health Projects