Health care has been one of the most fundamental elements of society. Healthcare workers are globally regarded as noble professionals who are responsible for the most important and critical part of human welfare. Since the old times, health care has been treated as an emergency service. A kind of service where the most critical tasks are carried out. And the same was carried forward in the coming years. As the times advanced the definition of health care was expanded beyond the basics. Like in the old times there were very few hospitals available. And the ones existent were overused. But with the advancements in surgical techniques to science. The activities that were performed also changed drastically. Which in turn started to shape the architecture of healthcare.
As the concept of medicine originated decades back. The practice of medicine and surgeries was decades old and was practiced in various countries. But it took time for these practices to be performed beyond the limits of home and religious places. Soon with the development and increase in need of the jobs of health care workers started to get defined and so did the concept of healthcare space like hospitals, clinics were brought into existence. And as the origin of healthcare was formed through need; many initial years the architecture of these spaces didn’t define more than emergency areas and functional spaces. As the knowledge and application in health care expanded. The spaces and activities extended beyond just emergencies. And stepped into the recovery and cure section. Which considerably increased the spaces in healthcare architecture.
And as the years progressed due to standardization of the activities and their function the spaces also started to follow a pattern. A pattern that worked. As it was not just easier for accommodating the function of the space but also was adhering to the standards of equipment and procedures. And is practiced in most healthcare spaces around the world. Which despite being most workable; it has limited the growth and changing ability of such spaces with time.
If said hospitals.
What image come to our mind?
Certainly, a hospital with rigid geometry, white walls, cold furniture, and not so welcoming rooms that are ghosted with your fears that you carried since childhood.
This conditioning of mind for years has created a rigid perception towards these spaces. And is in immense need to be broken. As today, we just don’t deal with the emergency. But with admission, treatment, cure, prevention, and rehabilitation process. Which due to massive development in technology and science is changing every day, And so is the need of the user. Today healthcare isn’t just a curing center but a refuge. As the modern world problems have changed drastically than the ones we faced years back. So to be able to withstand the needs the healthcare mold also needs a rethink. And this rethinking has been best explained through the words of Leland R. Kaiser who quoted:
“The hospital is a human invention and as such can be reinvented any time”
This reinvention has been targeted by changing the ‘how’ of designing. Which has been done individually with different perspectives? As some of the children specialist hospitals have successfully broken the fearful image of the hospital as a spooky place into a play area. Which has not just achieved more positive response from the users, but also has affected the admit rate.
Considering today’s problems, mental health institutions have stepped out of the orthodox image to encourage users to openly accept and encourage mental health awareness as equally as physical health problems. Which has been achieved by merging mental health clinics with rehabs and mindfulness retreats? That not only has increased worldwide response to mental health. But has also saved millions of lives of people that were scared to get admitted just because of the dogma and image that surrounded such hospitals. Colour, texture, smell, aesthetically pleasing environment, and comfort are some of the factors that have been used to affect not just our senses but also our rigid perception we all carried regarding such spaces.
Perfection is an enemy of innovation. As design never ends; and keeps evolving and changing with time. As the core of the design is to serve the users and their changing needs. So it is best to remake, rethink, and recreate one of the best and most important spaces we have created for humanity.
But today, after reading this. If I ask you the same question. There is a possibility that you would have a different and better answer. As now the designers haven’t just changed the bricks or the colors. They have reshaped our minds. And have successfully recreated our imageability regarding healthcare. Which is the first step towards the creation of a non-conventional design.
So again, talking about healthcare.
What do you see?