Healing Architecture is a scientifically developed concept to nurture the physical and mental wellbeing of people. Prevalent in healthcare facilities and rehabilitation centres, this form of building, targets humans at the core of the issue. The spaces are designed to create environments to facilitate happiness and tranquillity. This function-driven design typology combines architecture, psychology and human anatomy, to induce the human ability to self-heal.
Below is the list of 10 examples of healing architecture:
1. Drug De-addiction Centre for Muktangan Mitra:
Designed by renowned Architect Shirish Beri, the health care facility is located in Pune. Built in 1986, the structure conforms to the contoured landscape. The building aims to rehabilitate drug addicts into society. The enclosed amphitheatre can accommodate up to 150 people while providing much-needed light and ventilation indoors. It visually connects the various internal spaces with nature, with the help of lush, grassy steps and ivy-covered stone walls. The structure combines transparency and solidarity by the intermixing of glass windows and stone retaining walls. The common spaces are naturally lit by circular skylights. Stepped balconies run along the perimeter of the structure, providing scenic views of the Western Ghats. The vistas, common spaces and the mix of materials facilitate the experience and process of patients undergoing rehabilitation.
2. Saroj Gupta Cancer Centre and Research Institute:
Located in Thakurpukur, Kolkata, the teaching hospital is the only cancer hospital in India with such an expansive campus. Designed by Anjan Gupta Architects, the 13-acre site is extensively landscaped to incorporate the structures within nature. Opened in 1973, the hospital has 311 beds and over 850 staff members. The campus has three water bodies which provide passive cooling and a sense of tranquillity for patients. The building typology varies with functional requirements and external factors, thereby ensuring a more cost-effective design. The structures range from two to four-storey tall thereby reducing exposure to harsh sunlight. The colourful exteriors along with the lush green surroundings stimulate the mind and foster positivity.
3. Ilima Conservation School:
Located in the Tshuapa Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the campus aims to protect humans and wildlife in and around the village of Ilima. The 800 square metre building designed by MASS Design Group, was completed in 2015. The school comprises a reception area, library, an office and six classrooms. A pitched roof sits atop the two-metre-high walls to ensure ventilation in the highly hot and humid microclimate. The project ensured local employment and education toward construction technologies. The large volumes also aid in the cooling and circulation. Due to its remote location, the school is made entirely of local materials, with the help of the villagers. The walls are made up of mud combined with palm oil, while the roof is made of wooden shingles. The entire school emitted 307,000 kilograms of carbon less than that of a similar project elsewhere. The entire construction strategy, its process and the end product helped the community and the surrounding fauna heal and get a new beginning.
4. Butaro district hospital, Rwanda:
The 6000 square metre facility in the Burera District of Rwanda was completed in 2011. MASS Design Group worked in collaboration with ICON to idealise the 150-bed hospital. The hospital reverses the conventional central corridor layout. The corridors run along the perimeter of the building with the beds in the wards facing the windows rather than inwards. This reduces the risk of hospital-borne infections and cross-contamination. The views provide the patients with a feeling of peace and tranquillity. Constructed using local labour and local materials, the project boosted employment and the local economy. The excavation and walls were done by hand, thereby decreasing the transportation cost of the project.
- aerial site view
- entire project
- connecting passages
- hospital wards
5. Bridgepoint Active Healthcare, Canada:
Built in 2013, Bridgepoint Active Healthcare is situated in Toronto, Canada. The 63,000 square metre facility focuses on complex chronic disease treatment and rehabilitation. It was designed by HDR, KPMB Architects, and Diamond Schmitt Architects. The adjoining Don Jail was refurbished to house the hospital’s administration and education centre. The 140-year-old jail is connected to the newly built treatment centre by a bridge. The ground floor of the hospital wing is made of glass, thereby promoting transparency and entry of natural light. The façade is a mix of different types of windows and has cuboidal projections of multiple sizes. The horizontal ribbon windows on each floor are broken intermittently by vertical pop-out windows in the otherwise linear façade. The lower ground floor has a sunken therapeutic pool, which looks out onto the surrounding park. This enhances connectivity with nature and people in the outside world. The roof has a picnic area overlooking the city, for patients to reconnect with the environment and the busy city. The project won the 2015 AIA National Award and has a LEED Silver certification for sustainability.
6. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice:
The National Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama spans across 2800 square metres. Conceptualized by MASS Design Group and activist and lawyer Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative it was built in 2018. It was built in remembrance of the lives lost to lynching, between Reconstruction and the 2nd World War. There are names of over 4000 people, from the twelve Southern States alone. The project aims to accept history and to help people move on from the dark past. The structure makes us introspect on the much-needed change in the mindset of the population of the USA. As one enters the monument, the floor seems to drop down, forcing visitors to look up at the suspended plaques. The entire site consists of 800 COR-TEN steel columns hanging from the roof, with each dedicated to a particular county or district.
7. Mount Sinai Hess Centre for Science and Medicine:
The Mount Sinai Hess Centre was built in 2013 by world-renowned architectural firm, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM). The 40,000 square metre facility in Upper Manhattan, blends nature and state of the art technology to create a healing environment. Each floor has informal as well as formal meeting spaces for scientific discussions and relaxation. Visitors’ access is restricted to the bottom four levels. A four-storey high atrium is landscaped to provide much-needed relief to an otherwise solid mass amidst the city. Comprising 11 levels, the research centre is connected vertically by a central stairwell. Horizontally the various visitor spaces are connected visually.
8. Gallaudet University:
The Gallaudet University expansion was built in 2008, in Georgetown, Northeast DC. It was designed by the university architect, Hansel Bauman. Being the only liberal arts institution for the deaf and hard of hearing, the Sorenson Language and Communication Centre’s meaning of healing is different than in hospitals. The healing aspect is seen in the improved quality of education and living. Various design elements have been modified to accommodate communication via sign language. The doorways and corridors are wider while diffused natural light enhances visibility. Horseshoe-shaped seating is provided in common areas so that discussions occur without hindrance. This kind of architecture has been termed as DeafSpace by the architect and the university. The acoustics are designed to minimise white noise and echoes. The walls are painted in contrast to skin tones to ensure students’ and teachers’ hand movements are clear.
9. Jiyan Healing Garden:
Jiyan Healing Garden is an animal-assisted trauma therapy centre situated in Chamchamal, Kurdistan-Iraq. The 660 square metre facility was built by ZRS Architekten Ingenieure in 2016. The centre aims to aid citizens suffering from trauma caused by the continuing strife in the nation. It reinvents traditional local architecture using local materials, construction technologies, flora and fauna. A set of eleven earthen structures are arranged around a courtyard. The rooms are passively cooled with the help of thick air-dried earth brick walls and straw insulated timber roofs. The roofs extend to form porches and continue to shade the pathways connecting the varying volumes. The site is landscaped in a grid pattern to give a semblance of uniformity and symmetry.
10. Santa Fe de Bogotá Foundation:
Situated in Bogota, Columbia, the hospital expansion was built in 2016. Designed by El Equipo de Mazzanti, the building has a floor area of 32,000 square metres. The building connects with the city with the presence of a landscaped plaza. The large cube merges with the rest of the medical complex, with help of the brick façade. However, the brick is used as a perforated membrane with an externally concave screen. There is a solarium on the ninth floor of the twelve storeys tall building. The solarium brings the soothing effect of nature into the common spaces. Lighting conditions, natural ventilation and greenery reduce the recovery time by reducing the stress and fatigue of the patients.