Creating dynamic hoardings that educate and engage with the local community

The Pears Building will be an immunology facility, built next to the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, and is due to open in Autumn 2020. It is a collaborative project including the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, the Royal Free Charity, University College London (UCL) and the Pears Foundation.

The Pears Building will house the UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation (IIT) and will focus on the immune system. It will work on new treatments for conditions such as leukaemia and diabetes where scientists will work alongside clinicians in the neighbouring hospitals.

After a successful tender pitch, our brief was to create graphics for the hoardings around the construction site that would educate and inform the public about the new medical research centre whilst also encouraging young people’s interest in the subject matter.

The 67 graphics panels, installed by our good friends at, stretch across 70-metres and are split into four informative sections: the science behind immunology, the building itself, a brief history of immunology and a community section that includes illustrations, drawings and comments from the local community, including children from Fleet Primary School, Hampstead.

Since going up, the hoardings have created quite a stir, with many members of the public stopping to read them, which was a key objective of the project. We wanted to engage with the local community, by informing them of what’s coming while educating them about the ground-breaking research that will take place at the institute.

We also wanted to help tackle any perceived scepticism surrounding genetics-based medical research. Our feeling was that when the public thinks of stem cell research, they can tend to think of Dolly the Sheep, cloning and designer genetics where this research could potentially be perceived as negative. We wanted to highlight how this work could be of huge benefit to society and how immunology has opened up a whole new arena where things that were previously untreatable have now become treatable.

The hoardings are fun and energetic and comprise of pastel shades of pink, blue and purple, with colourful abstract shapes representing cells, chromosomes, viruses, antibodies and other scientific elements. We wanted the designs to effectively immerse people in the immune system so that they become lost in a cellular environment.

They were intentionally playful and didn’t focus too much on specific medicines or technology, but instead engaged with the public on an emotional level. We also wanted to get young people on board and hopefully inspire them to be the scientists and engineers of the future.

The information on the hoardings was broken down into bite-size pieces with a mixture of technical and light-hearted copy. We worked with highly skilled medical professionals and scientists to gather the relevant information, asking them to provide us with key points related to their area of expertise that we could then present in laymen’s terms.

“We are absolutely delighted with the hoardings, which convey a wealth of information about the work that will go on in the new building in a way that everyone should find interesting. tothepoint were great to work with – creative, endlessly patient and efficient. We’d love to work with them again sometime.” Philippa Hutchinson, Communications manager at the Pears Building
read the article in Design Week

Oliver Yu Chan hoardings section

As an additional side project to the Pears Building hoardings in Hampstead, we were asked to think of a cost-effective way of displaying the work of a local Hampstead artist that would complement the main hoardings we had just completed. The artist in question was Oliver Yu Chan, a young man on the autistic spectrum, who had created a wonderful collection of paintings, illustrated from various viewpoints around Hampstead.

As a youth Oliver attended Oak Lodge, East Finchley, a school for students with a wide range of moderate or complex learning difficulties, and during this time, he was offered the chance to join the art class at King Alfred’s School Hampstead for one afternoon a week, a wonderful opportunity for him to integrate with mainstream students as well as developing his artistic skills in this unique environment.

He had very little speech as a child and had many challenging behaviours but his mother, Caroline, was determined to encourage his artistic interests as a way of expressing himself in a more positive way.

Our solution for the hoardings was to create a series of gallery-type hangings that utilised the pastel colour palette from the main hoardings and also complemented his materials of choice – acrylic and pen and ink. His work can be found on his website:

I like how art can bring people together and how it can transcend generations. I like going to cafes.” Oliver Yu Chan, Artist
view UCL Hoardings project