Life’s a beach at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital

Life’s a beach at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital

Thanks to its bacteriostatic properties, combined with its natural texture and appearance, Forbo Flooring Systems’ Marmoleum collection has helped to turn the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital’s playful beach theme dream into reality for its paediatric entrance and waiting area. The vibrant and exciting design of this project led it to be commended in the Fly Forbo 2019/20 competition.

After raising funds to refurbish its paediatric entrance and waiting area (for younger children) the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust consulted with its patients and parents to gather their aspirations and provide inspiration for the look and feel of the space. The consensus was the children wanted a theme that reflected a place where happy family memories are made; the Devon coastline. Following this consultation, the Trust enlisted the help of Studio Hanson and Navada Construction to bring the idea to life.

Kay Hanson, Interior Designer at Studio Hanson, said: “When children visit a hospital for appointments or treatment, it can be a daunting experience for them — especially for the younger children. When I was approached by the Trust we initially discussed creating an interactive beach themed space, which would provide patients with a positive and playful experience; I couldn’t wait to begin the project. Designing to enhance the lives of the user is a strong passion of mine, and it was a great privilege to be part of this project.

“The space is a real paradise. Throughout the waiting area, we had bespoke large scale graphics applied to the walls by NB&Co; featuring playful animals and children enjoying the sandy beaches and blue skies. Children can enjoy bespoke joinery palm trees, flying birds overhead and parasols to relax under, feature sky scene lights above and at the heart of the space we designed three bespoke brightly coloured beach huts. Each beach hut contains a different activity for children to enjoy during their wait; an interactive games table, a library and a play kitchen was designed to encourage imaginative play. For the parents we also designed benches to mimic the look of hammocks, so that they could hopefully lose themselves for a moment within the space too.

“When selecting the floor covering, we wanted something that had a more natural and subtle aesthetic to replicate the movement of sand and sea, while also complementing the really vibrant space overall. We therefore chose to use Forbo’s Marmoleum collection. I have specified this range across many healthcare projects before, I knew it was the perfect choice — not only from a design point of view, but also because of its natural bacteriostatic properties and sustainable credentials. For the sand, we specified Marmoleum Cocoa in the white chocolate colourway, as the various tones running throughout the surface provided a really authentic sand-like finish.”

Forbo’s Marmoleum range is manufactured from 94 – 98% natural raw materials (including linseed oil, rosin, wood flour, jute and limestone), making it one of the most sustainable floor coverings available on the market. However, the Marmoleum Cocoa range goes one step further, as it has an additional seventh natural ingredient: upcycled cocoa shells from a Dutch chocolate producer. The inclusion of the cocoa shells adds a rich granular look that is fresh and contemporary.

Kay continued: “Across the sand-like floor, we wanted waves to lap over from the sea. This was easy to achieve thanks to Forbo’s laser cutting technology. Forbo cut wave like shapes from three shades of blue found within the Marmoleum Marbled Real, Splash and Fresco ranges — all of which feature a marble effect that helped to replicate the movement of the sea. Once the bespoke shapes were cut, the flooring contractor installed the sheets diagonally across the entire room to create a focal point.”

The Marmoleum Marbled range is inspired by Mother Nature’s colour palette and consists of five organic structures: Fresco, Real, Vivace, Terra and Splash. It has been designed to help create inspirational interiors to re-connect end users with nature, naturally, which made it the perfect solution for this project.

What’s more, the 2.5mm version of Marmoleum is now also, independently Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) confirmed, as a carbon neutral floor covering in the cradle to gate stages of the product’s life cycle and all without the need for carbon offsetting.

Kay concluded: “We also used Forbo’s Marmoleum Striato Original to create a timber boardwalk effect inlaid within the ‘sand’ through the entrance corridor, which leads to the waiting area. To make the boardwalk even more realistic, the flooring contractors, installed the ‘planks’ in an offset fashion to provide a more rustic aesthetic.

“The client’s brief allowed us to be very creative and playful and together with the fantastic workmanship of the contractor, Navada Construction, the result is magical! During a site visit we heard one child say “Wow! Mummy, we’re on the beach” – this is exactly the reaction we’d hoped for. If our scheme helps to alleviate the worries of a hospital visit for the young patients while they’re in the space, then the design is a success. The Trust is using this area as an exemplar project to raise funds for the refurbishment of the other Paediatric waiting areas and wards, and plan to continue the theme into the first arrival point for many children, including the children’s A&E department. We plan to use an age appropriate adaptation of the beach theme throughout the department, so there is a continual link between each area.”

Richard Tomlinson from the Trust commented: “We are delighted with the refurbishment of the Paediatric waiting area and so are our patients. We wanted them to be excited as they arrived and for the children to know this is the place they could feel relaxed and safe. The child friendly design reinforces the message that the child is at the centre of our service and that we focus on their wellbeing. The Boardwalk completes the complete 360-degree experience as they approach the department and encourages children, who might otherwise be anxious, to walk down to the waiting and play area.”

For more information about Fly Forbo 2020/21, please visit or for further information about Marmoleum, please visit If you would like to help raise money for the next refurbishment project at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital Paediatrics department please call the fundraising team on 01392 402040 or email

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