Donald Urquhart: New CAMHS Unit Dundee

The new CAMHS Unit in Dundee is a new build, twelve bedroom Unit, adjacent to Dudhope House. It sits in woodland on a south facing slope with views over the River Tay. NHS Scotland commissioned the Unit to centralize the provision of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services for seven Health Boards across the North of Scotland. It is now operational and will have its formal opening ceremony in September, 2015.

Donald Urquhart  CAHMS Project

Donald Urquhart
CAMHS Project

During the construction phase, Donald Urquhart was commissioned to develop and implement an arts strategy for the new building, working closely with staff, patients and the design team through consultative processes. Donald is one of the Arts Coordinators, currently working on “Points of View”, a therapeutic arts strategy for Woodland View Community Hospital.

“In many ways my approach to the CAMHS Unit echoes that of Woodland View, in that the overall strategy, “PLACE” took the therapeutic qualities of the natural world as its core subject. It also involved developing works for key locations which would compliment the architectural spaces in which they were to be located.”

“Whilst the demographic of the two hospital differed, the essential aim was to develop a set of internal and external projects that enhanced the patient and staff experience.”

Internal Projects

Donald Urquhart  CAMHS Project

Donald Urquhart
CAMHS Project

Tay Wall

Located in a featureless, yet busy, stairwell the work takes  the form of a tile, mosaic. Photographic boat trips were organized for the young people on the River Tay estuary. Imagery of water was selected and individual ceramic transfers were fired onto coloured tiles. The overall design is an abstraction of the river developed through the young people’s images.

Landscape Images

Donald Urquhart CAHMS Project

Laura McEwan
CAMHS Project

The new unit has a large catchment area, with young people residing in the unit from an area that includes Orkney Shetland, Skye, The Highlands, Aberdeenshire, Perthshire and Angus.

This project animated the corridors with 100 images of the landscapes from across the Unit’s catchment area. Working with the photographer, Laura McEwan, the images capture the essence of the characteristic of each landscape.

The work allows the residents a reminder of their home landscape as well as providing the young people with conversational reference points.

Rolling Text

Donald Urquhart CAHMS Project

Donald Urquhart
CAMHS Project

Located in the dining room is a slow moving LED display unit. The LED displays a different text each day, which references events likely to happen on that day, in the landscape and natural world around the Hospital, likely to happen on that day;




The work encourages the young people to engage with events in the hospital grounds and the wider landscape, is educational, and provides a conversational stimulus.


Donald Urquhart CAMHS Project

Donald Urquhart
CAMHS Project

Located in the waiting area at the entrance, the screens hold several hundred images of sunlit foliage. They are programmed to gently change the images in random timings, causing an ever-changing set of views of woodland.

Text Mural

Donald Urquhart CAMHS Project

Donald Urquhart
CAMHS Project

Through a series of workshops, the young people selected a range of words that they felt important to them and which conveyed messages of positivity. These words were installed throughout the Educational Suite of the Unit.


Donald Urquhart CAMHS Project

Donald Urquhart
CAMHS Project

In conjunction with the Occupational Therapy services, a Gallery was created in a public space. The inter changeable exhibitions will often feature the work of the young people.

External Projects

Donald Urquhart CAMHS external works

Donald Urquhart (bird boxes and benches), Gerry Loose (text panels) CAMHS Project

All of the external projects are designed to encourage the young people to spend time outdoors.

Working with the poet, Gerry Loose, ten poems were developed to be installed in the grounds, the poems reference the birds and trees and create a trail through the woodland. Twelve colour coded nesting boxes are also installed, both in conjunction with Loose’s poems and to be visible from the young people’s bedrooms.

An informal seating area has also been created within the grounds. The seating provided by two beams of oak and the area planted with Silver Birch and Snowdrops.

In the internal courtyards a digital recording of running water is also played to create a therapeutic atmosphere.

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2 Responses to Donald Urquhart: New CAMHS Unit Dundee

  1. It is amazing to see how much thought and effort goes into each item. Inspiring. I am sure th young people will benefit from such a therapeutic environment.

    • Thank you for your kind comments and we’re glad that you like the work at CAMHS, Dundee. We love to hear from readers so thanks again for taking the time to share your point of view.

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