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Mobile by artist Dennis Lin

Mural by artist Louise Tanguay

Drawings by neuroscientist Santiago Cajal

Holland Bloorview Research MRI 
Toronto, Ontario
2,150 square feet
Completed 2020
Services: interior design, furniture and art consulting
We had the privilege of working with Carlyle Design Associates, Anne Carlyle in particular. Anne worked with the entire construction team, including architects, construction managers, scientists, clinicians and clients and families, to bring our vision to life. This is a one-of-a-kind suite that could not have been completed without Anne’s design expertise, passion and vision. We look forward to partnerships in the future.”
Nadia Tanel, DIrector of Research Growth and Development, Bloorview Research Institute

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital’s challenge to the design team was to create a uniquely welcoming place for world-class brain research and to engage kids and families in the activities. The research MRI enables scientists to study how the brain develops over time in children, youth and adults, especially those with autism, cerebral palsy and acquired brain injury. 


The unit is the first in Canada that is immersive, customizable, child-friendly and fully accessible.The renovated suite includes waiting, assessment rooms, staff, change and preparation space, the control area and scan room. 


As a core member of the Hanson Jung Architects’ design team, Carlyle Design Associates focused on the effort to design a fully accessible, engaging and interactive space – both high-tech and low-tech  –  in which families feel comfortable, respected and confident, and to which kids will want to return. 


The team worked to build upon the remarkable design character of the existing building – open warm, full of light and places to discover, and connections to nature – and to celebrate the evolving science of brain research. Key elements, designed to inspire story-telling, imagination, learning and connection include:


  • Digital technology (with endless options) that allows each child and youth to choose images, videos and music that create an immersive experience, whether soothing or entertaining, in the magnet room and within the magnet itself


  • Wood on walls and ceilings, organic oval shapes in ceiling and flooring, tunable lighting, and elements of colour, technology and art that balance interest/stimulation with the need for calm/reassurance


  • Copies of beautiful drawings of brain cells and neurons by Spanish neuroscientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal (known as the father of neuroscience), from the archives of the Cajal Institute in Madrid, that are enlarged and printed on floor-to-ceiling wood wall panels in waiting and consult rooms, layering imagery of early research with the veneer pattern/grain of wood


  • a functional variety of mini-environments in the waiting space – a cluster of comfortable lounge seating, a built-in alcove bench and an adjustable height communal table adjacent to a 3D printer that prints 3D brain models from the MRI imaging. Each kid can take home their brain!


  • A mobile by artist Dennis Lin, made of lyrical wood and metal pieces and co-created with kids in workshop sessions. Activated to move with an iPad and a small fan (or by human movement in the waiting space, or a child blowing on them!) the suspended elements reflect a play of subtle light and shadow around the room and make gentle sounds when they knock together 


  • A mural, created by artist /photographer Louise Tanguay and printed on protective wall covering in the suite’s change area, that sets up a playful visual dialogue between a delicate Cajal drawing and her photographs of colourful insects, some of which would be found in the natural world of the ravine outside. 

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Video Tour

Photographs by Tom Arban Photography and Hanson Jung Architects

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