Rethinking Hospitals

It’s been years since I’ve been into a hospital, and a trip to see the lovely baby Lucy, only confirmed that hospitals need a design rethink.  I really like the ease of busway connection to Mater Hospital, but once outside the busway I found it instantly to be a rather confusing places to navigate.  The inside of the building was largely uninspiring too.

Rethinking hospital architecture, isn’t a new thought –

  • I’ve starting to see a bit how QLD Health plans hospital sites and the function of buildings.  I’ve heard of things like how compact vertical buildings are better for staff moving between wards.  From an urban design context I think both RBH, PAH hospitals appear to be inward looking sites, disconnected to streets and at some points almost ‘fortress like’
  • I was inspired in seeing the work of IDEO and rethinking of hospital experience. I had seen it in a presentation, where it highlighted that most people experiences in hospital beds is looking at ceilings – and just think how ceilings are really ugly and uninspiring
  • Someone had flagged the work of  Charles Jencks with me recently, and he is known for Maggie Centres (for cancer care) which are beautifully designed and just an example of linking between architecture and wellbeing.

But it is promising to note, this type of rethinking is emerging.  Via Ode-

The transformation is already happening at places like the new Rikshopitalet University Hospital in Oslo, Norway, where architects designed a large facility on a human scale inspired by the comforting layout of a traditional village. “To promote health is to promote security and well-being,” writes Arvid Ottar, chief architect of the new hospital. “For us, such feelings are linked strongly to the feeling of recognition. We felt that our solution lay more in the domain of town planning than architecture.”

The hospital’s main thoroughfare is a bright, glass-roofed “street” that gently curves to suggest a village road. Treatment areas and labs are clustered around central courtyards on one side of the street and patient wards jut out from the other side, with every room offering views of nature. A plaza marks the hospital entrance and clinics are organized around “public squares.”

On a more intimate scale, the architects incorporated healing elements such as daylight, and chose wall colors carefully, using soothing tones for bed areas and energizing shades for physi otherapy. Ottar explains, “We believe that the right environment promotes patient health and well-being, and are firmly convinced that future studies will prove this.”


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