Liverpool’s Alder Hey is one of the biggest and busiest children’s hospitals in Europe, caring for over 200,000 children each year. But delivering a consistently world-class standard of care in outdated premises has proven increasingly difficult.

Over three years, Alder Hey planned a new, pioneering facility: a ‘children’s health park’ to be built on a neighbouring site. When they created a shortlist of companies to develop this vital new building, our client Balfour Beatty was on it.

Working with Balfour Beatty thoughout 2010 and 2011, we became a critical element in the bid team. In that time, and partly in response to ongoing feedback from the Trust, we produced over 30 photorealistic CGIs, as well as seven animations communicating the central concept, the distribution of departments and facilities, the movement of people through the building, and a general sense of how the hospital and its park would look and feel.

Most notably of all, we created what we called the ‘Wonder Film’: a vivid piece that communicates the sense of wonder the new building would inspire. The child-focused design of the new hospital aimed to create welcoming, delightful, friendly environment: a place where children could feel at home.

The standard architectural ‘fly-through’ could never capture these special qualities. We wanted our film to give the hospital Trust – including a special children’s panel – a sense of how the building would feel, as well as look.

To do that, we worked with respected illustrator and artist Jo Hepworth to create an array of bespoke characters, designed to appeal to many ages as well as to reflect Alder Hey’s branding. The characters brought new life and engagement to the animation, turning a technical film into an emotive one and creating a genuine sense of how the environments would feel.

Although Balfour Beatty ultimately lost out on the bid, the reaction to our film was unanimously positive. ‘Superb,’ said one of the consultants on the team. ‘I think the Wonder film is beautiful.’ The Bid Director said it was ‘absolutely outstanding,’ and the Bid Manager was even more effusive: ‘WOW!!! We absolutely love the wonder film.’ That’s the sort of response we aim for.

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