Robertson capital investment for mental health unit

CAMHS Unit, Dundee


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£5.6 million
NHS Tayside, Grampian, Highland, Orkney and Shetland
March 2015
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A place of sanctuary

The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) team at NHS Tayside provide in-patient services for young people aged 12–18 years across the North of Scotland, some of whom will spend months away from home as part of their recovery.

 CAMHS mental health unit

"This is a building of exceptional quality ... it will make a genuinely positive difference to patients and staff."
Ruth Masson
Regional Child and Adolescent Health Network Manager

Masson continues: "The new facility has given my clinical team and wider social and support agencies a great opportunity to deliver a significant change in clinical outcomes. From the orientation of the building, overlooking scenic aspects of Tayside, through to the arrangement of spaces, a beautiful external garden and communal recreation areas and an appropriate selection of finishes, fixtures and patient artwork, it will make a genuinely positive difference to patients and staff."

A home away from home

The new 12-bed CAMHS unit at Dudhope Terrace in Dundee replaces an existing six-bed unit, which was located in a converted Grade B listed building and could not offer the facilities required. A safe and re-assuring residential unit was needed to help secure successful outcomes for patients and staff, providing therapeutic spaces in a place of sanctuary. Considerable care was taken during the design process to give the facility a 'home away from home' feel. It was vital to the success of the project that the building had a youthful aesthetic reflecting the age and priorities of its residents. Young people from the existing facility, along with staff, were involved in the design of the new unit to make sure it would meet their needs.

All bedrooms are private, with ensuite bathrooms and views of either the internal courtyard or the River Tay. Throughout the unit, spaces have been created where young people can spend time engaged in activities in the same way as they would at home, with other people or on their own. Families – who will naturally find this a difficult time – are provided with a self-contained apartment within the building, with accommodation for up to four people.

 CAMHS interior

Designed with recovery in mind

Fixtures and finishes were carefully selected to promote a residential feel, and the building's design takes full advantage of its beautiful location: built on a hill to capture views across the Tay, with expansive grassed lawns retained to create a sense of space.

Mindful of the sensitivities of this project, we took a different approach to Community Benefits: We appointed an artist who worked with the young people to create installations for the new building. For example, one of the corridors has been turned into a gallery where the young people can display their work. In another installation, their photographs of the surrounding landscape were transferred onto tiles to create a mosaic in the main stairwell.

Crucially, at all stages of design and build, the facility has been orientated towards the recovery of the people who stay there. As a result, the young people and staff are all benefitting from a building that responds to their needs.

Project team: Robertson Capital Projects / hub East Central Scotland, BAM Construction (contractor), Gauldie Wright and Partners LLP (incumbent architects), Goodson Associates (civil & structural engineers), FES (building services), Alliance CDM (incumbent CDMC), Hulley & Kirkwood (BREEAM assessor)

 CAMHS photo gallery