Architecture has been a part of health care even before ‘well-being’ was a genre of architecture. The ability in design gives a way to cater to life forms making sure their needs are being answered while also showing them the possibility of much more. In an ideal world where we all dream to be in, maybe if we are once habitualised and learn living in it, we may not have the necessity for re-habitation. But the reality of our world is far from perfect, and we could all use a helping hand now and then. And that is all rehabilitation centre and health care architecture personify. 

Needs, Wants, and Desires

Most healthcare architecture, especially the rehabilitation centers are often designed monumentally; monumental here doesn’t mean in size but memory and lifestyle. Caregiving in all life forms has led to a better quality of life. 

People make the tough choice of getting better though they know it’s going to be a rough road ahead and rehabilitation architecture is used as a form to alleviate the journey people go through. At least physically, architecture has the power to take the form of whatever they need in aiding the tough journey they embarked on. It satisfies their wants, in being a distraction, a comfort, a space to feel safe and secure or give them direction while they fight their own battles. And of desires, architecture is the very absence of it, to put it another way, it gives the motivation and space to make it their desires as a reward for that healing process. Architecture that heals in a way strives to achieve the physical embodiment of Maslow’s pyramid (McLeod. S, 2007).

The healing power of architecture is seen through the design of rehabilitation centers for life forms, here are a few; say around 25 of them, to showcase them briefly. While these can only depict the basic needs, they also retain their sense of calm and curiosity to its residents and the communities they help define. 

1. Shirley Ryan Ability Lab | Rehabilitation centre

Designed by HDR and Gensler in association with Clive Wilkinson Architects, and located in Chicago, IL, U.S.A., the rehab facility is the trendsetter in having a research area as a part of its design to give maximum output to its seekers. Colour in this design was used more than just to fill a blank space but in consideration of its processed visually with its bold nature incorporating graphics, natural light, and landscape. (Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, 2022)

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Care in color, Shirley Ryan Ability Lab_©HDR 2022

2. Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital

Designed by Perkins & Will, located in Charlestown, Massachusetts, U.S.A. provides connection spaces overlooking the harbor located at its edge near the Charlestown Navy Yard. The design is an interplay of glass, light, and terraces to the element of water which forms the connection to the site and its people, both for patients and visitors. (Gillespie, 2019)

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View of Water, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital_©Perkins&Will

3. Rehabilitation Centre Groot Klimmendaal 

Designed by Koen van Velsen, sitting in a forest in the Netherlands, Dutch, this rehabilitation center engages its users with the nature surrounding it while also using it to be secluded from the rest of the world. Transitions of time are kept intact through the change in trees and visual comfort within by bold and solid colors in its interiors which change when the daylight falls on them. (Koen van Velsen architecten, 2022).

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Nested in between the trees, Rehabilitation Centre Groot Klimmendaal_©Architectenbureau Koen van Velsen

4. Centre for Psychosocial Rehabilitation

Designed by Otxotorena Arquitectos located in San Juan de Alicante, Spain, this rehabilitation center is based on the simple geometry of a rectangle being over imposed by a bold horizontal element of corridors. Spaces are functionally distributed to each having a connection to the site, to the outside, to the central courtyard and landscape, while also connecting to the core movement within. (Otxotorena Arquitectos Alicante Psychosocial Rehabilitation Centre, Floornature, 2015)

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External walkways, Photographer: Pegenaute, P_©Otxotorena Arquitectos

5. Wellbeing Pavilion

Designed by Kaunitz Yeung and located in Orange New South Wales, Australia, this rehabilitation center was a collaborative output from the local community. Natural light and ventilation were given hierarchy in design, and materiality represented the rich background of the locals in the humblest way, timber, forming its outline. (Wellbeing Pavilion, 2022)

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Play of light in design, Wellbeing Pavilion_©Kaunitz Yeung Architecture

6. Rehab Clinic

Designed by Herzog & De Meuron, the rehabilitation center was an extension of the REHAB Clinic in Basel, Switzerland. The two-floor horizontal extension was subtly added to the existing clinic keeping in mind the ease of access to its users. The design was focused on connecting inside space to the outside rather than the other way around. (Herzog & de Meuron completes extension of REHAB clinic in Basel, 2022)

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Courtyard connecting spaces, Photographer: Thoma, D._©Herzog & De Meuron

7. Teletón Children’s Rehabilitation Centre 

Designed by Gabinete de Arquitectura (Arquitectos Architects), Paraguay, this rehabilitation center has been rebuilt from an existing center in Lambare. The project was a combination of destruction of the old and creation of the new, taking a leaf out of what rehabilitation means. Materials from the rubble have been mostly reused in building the new center as the project was intended. The ideology of reusing the materials or rehabilitating the materials was a conscious decision made to give the same representation to the society it stands in. (Teletón Children’s Rehabilitation Center, Gabinete de Arquitectura, 2022)

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Bent brick and shadow, Photographer: Finotti, L._©Arquitectos Architects

8. Vandhalla Egmont Rehabilitation Centre 

Designed by CUBO Arkitekter and Force4 Architects, located in Denmark, Vandhalla is an extension to Egmont school. The addition of rehabilitation has its focus on providing rehabilitation through the water. Its easy access pool for even these differently has led to an increase in the number of students and gave motivation to the student as well as the public as well. It is safe to say that this piece of architecture stands as an inspiration for its location. (Vandhalla Egmont Højskolen, 2022).

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Pool for everyone, Photo credit, Tuxen. L._©Vandhalla Egmont Højskolen.

9. Belmont Community Rehabilitation Centre 

Design by Billard Leece Partnership architecture firm, located in Victoria, Australia assists people in learning to develop skills required for their all-around wellbeing and maintain it since the year 2012. It sits in a residential area with plenty of landscape, the center also provides external services to the community. (Belmont Community Rehabilitation Centre, Billard Leece Partnership, 2013)

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Visual connection of rooms to the landscape, Photographer: Miler, T._©Archdaily, 2013.

10. Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Centre PUR

Designed by Schneider & Lengauer, Freistadt in Upper Austria, what started as a center for physiotherapy is now an all-inclusive facility catering to all physical needs of its visitors and its local community. Spaces within are designed in a way to have a connection but also exist as a separate entity within itself. The atrium unseen from the outside defines the boundaries of each area within the center. 

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Entrance, Photo credit: Tollerian. D._©ArchDaily 2012.
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Keerthi Priya Ramineni, currently lives in Australia, having finished her master’s degree in Architecture she's finding a way to combine the passion she has for words and her interest in architecture.