The Reliving Room is a small room designed to create an immersive experience of life in Swansea’s original Cefn Coed mental hospital, before its decommissioning. Between January and June 2019 it is part of the Cefn Coed Remembered exhibition at Swansea Museum.
The hospital was built in 1932, according to a Victorian architectural pattern which reflects both clinical and societal approaches to mental health of the time.
The room is made in part with pieces from the hospital itself: the door is from one of the ward rooms, and we include a small cabinet, and pictures and other wall furniture that hung there.
Two of the walls are projection-mapped with videos that tell stories about life in the hospital, narrated by staff who worked there.
Interaction is via a simple tangible interface. To each story there corresponds a small artefact – a peacock, a cube of snooker chalk, and a ‘glitter ball’ – on a plinth. Picking up one of these items causes the reliving room to switch to the story that relates to it. The story pauses when you replace it.
This interactive feature is a prototype which we are continuing to test. In the public exhibition, the room plays the video stories in rotation rather than interactively.