Hospital stays may be a little less gloomy for children at one Ukrainian psychiatric hospital, thanks to the most recent efforts of philanthropic group CUBA BUBA. A collaboration between design studio Decor Kuznetsov and the Valda Brusilovskaya Foundation, the CUBA BUBA team has been creating comforting, playful sensory modules for children’s hospitals all across Ukraine since 2017.
The latest model, titled “Sunny,” is an enclosure made of crisp white shelves, teeming with tactile toys and soothing greenery. Doors on the outside of its built-in shelving units can open or close, depending on the level of desired connection with the outside world. The floor is lined with a plush, sun-drenched yellow cushion while the ceiling is a piece of intricately carved wood, itself featuring a pattern crafted after those at the ancient Hindu temple of Kopeshwar. The Sunny also comes equipped with a light that shines up at that complex configuration, casting a kaleidoscope of delicate shadows all around the room.
For this construction, the company needed to carefully survey the needs of psychiatric pediatric patients. “CUBA BUBA is aimed at improving a person’s psycho-emotional state. [The module] is like going out into another friendly and cozy reality,” says the charity’s founder Vlada Brusilovskaya, who adds that “we base our work on the principles of evidence-based design; a direction initiated by Swedish researcher Roger Ulrich. In the process of work, we study the issues more deeply, adapt the general principles to the local needs of our hospitals, and focus on our own observations and feedback of doctors and staff.”
Valery Kuztnetsov, designer and founder of Décor Kusnetsov, explains how the Sunny helps these particular sick kids, saying that “people with mental disorders tend to shut themselves in. The job of doctors, teachers, and hospital staff, among other things, is to keep them in touch.The Cuba-Buba Sunny module is an emotionally friendly environment that produces new experiences. Sitting inside, you can build fantasy cities for baby dolls. Or you can just lie down, dream, feel safe, and get in touch with the universe. In the middle of the vault, there is a large round hole that lets in rays of light. Thanks to this solution, a certain sacredness has also appeared in our module. Not literally, but on a deep emotional level.”
The company has already created five other sensory centers for other Ukrainian hospitals. The CUBA BUBA #1 and #3 have touchable tiles running up the exterior walls, made of finger-happy materials like seashells, nuts, rocks, textured fabric, and glass beads. The inside has cubby benches and a pint-sized table for games and puzzles.
The CUBA BUBA Matrix installation is made entirely of white peg boards, made for children to stitch patterns in the walls and seats with thick, colorful cords. And the CUBA BUBA #4 is a simple wood outline of a house, with wind-chime like tubes lining one side for patients to swing and push.
All of the CUBA BUBA stations are free-standing constructions that can be set up in any common area to fashion a room within a room. They are roughly 8 feet long by 5.5 feet wide and 7.5 feet tall and made of natural substances like pressed wood, stone, metal, and cotton.
Posting on Facebook, the company says that it hopes its latest conception will produce the healing feeling of a “soft, cozy morning surrounded by toys and no limitations” for “the little ones undergoing treatment at the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Clinical Psychiatric Hospital.”