Hospice architecture has gained attention in the past decade. A hospice provides shelter to terminally ill patients who are beyond the scope of treatment mostly that section who have exhausted all their resources during the treatment phase and now do not have enough to support themselves. It is also about those who find refuge in sharing their emotions and feelings with people who have gone through similar journeys. The design of a hospice revolves around terminally-ill patients, their families, and care-givers. The understanding of how a hospice function and the mental state of the user group are key factors involved in the design. Very few architects all over the world have been able to solve this equation successfully to design a hospice which is not yet another institutionalized building or a hospital.

1. Karunashraya, Bengaluru, India

Ar. Sanjay Mohe is known for his play with massing and lighting. He often tries to bring all the five senses together by the choice of open spaces, materials, punctures, and use of clusters. Several clusters of similar functions are placed through the site with courtyards or water bodies as buffer space. The use of granite renders an all-natural look to the hospice and the textured walls add to the experience while walking down a corridor.

Water is known to have its influence over the five senses and hence a major element in this design. The design is carried out by the repetition of cellular spaces to form the major built-up. The zoning has been carried out to keep with the privacy factor. Each ward has been placed in such a way to get a view of the water body or a courtyard providing ample amount of daylight and ventilation. Plantation of trees has been undertaken to tackle the noise issues.

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Play of light and shadows. ©hindu.com
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The hospice designed by Mindspace Architects. ©www.karunashraya.org
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The inpatient wards of Karunashraya Hospice.©D S Rakshna

2. Assisi Hospice, Singapore

Assisi Hospice is yet another brilliant example of hospice in the world. Designed by New Space Architects, a firm in Singapore, this hospice has a tripartite structure with ramp access throughout. The design has distinguished wards with balconies and open spaces. Privacy increases as one moves upwards. The use of energy-efficient low-E double glazing is one of the environmentally friendly features. Glass curtain walls and Aluminium Panelling have been extensively used in the facade. Sun pipes and motion sensors are other energy-efficient features. Theraserialization’, a hybrid term coined by Stephen Verderber from the words “therapeutic” and “serialize” has been used to achieve visual interaction with nature in hospital designs. This design approach creates a continuum of indoor and outdoor spaces through biophilic design strategies that blur the lines of demarcation between the interior and the exterior of healthcare facilities. Minimum movement for caregivers, maximum view fields, nature integrated, personalized.

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Aerial view of Assisi Hospice.©archibazaar.com
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Assisi Hospice.©archibazaar.com
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Assisi Hospice’s dining area.©archibazaar.com
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The inpatient room in Assisi Hospice.©archibazaar.com
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The meditation hall in Assisi Hospice.©archibazaar.com
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The tripartite form of Assisi Hospice.©www.archibazaar.com

3. Maggie’s Centers

The Maggie Centres are hospices for cancer patients each of which is uniquely designed by a different architect. Their design sets them apart from the institutionalized hospital buildings and their architecture. All the architects involved in Maggie’s Centres when defining the right ‘feel’ for the building, they talk about ‘domesticity’. Creating this domestic feel is also achieved through scale, with all Maggie’s Centres being approximately 280m2. Maggie’s Centres are built on sites that vary from one another and are designed by different architects who have their architectural style, thus creating a series of unique buildings.

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Dundee, Scotland, 2003 by Frank Gehry ©Maggie’s Centres.
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Fife, Scotland, 2006 by Zaha Hadid Architects : ©Werner Huthmacher.
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Maggie’s Centre ©Oma 07

– Domesticity, the home-like scale is rendered to these centers.

– Privacy, carefully designed partitions and walls, not regular rooms, avoiding the hospital feeling.

– Blended with nature so that in any part of the Maggie Centres the user can step out into nature, either through; a window view, a courtyard, or garden area.

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Manchester Maggie center plan. ©Foster+ Partners
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Manchester, England, 2016 by Fosters + Partners ©Fosters + Partners.
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Plan of Maggie Center ©OMA


The brief for building a Maggie’s Centre challenges its architects’ thinking. They are expected to design the space to do as much work as the people who work there. This means that the preliminary planning stages are crucial. The kitchen is the central element of the design and all other spaces interconnected from this central space.

4. Sun Health Hospice, Phoenix, Arizona

Designed by Taliesin Architects, a firm in Arizona, this hospice expresses itself as an epitome of the location it is set in; Semi-arid horizontal desert. The architect had tried to evoke the imagery of the other build forms in the region. This has been achieved through the use of stucco and extended eaves from the compressed roof. The proportion, alignment, and composition plays with the sunlight and keeps the building aptly shaded. This meant savings in energy consumption. The windows run full height to give undisturbed views into the gardens, the clear blue sky, and the desert’s magic. A total of 12 inpatient rooms with attached baths are arranged in a diamond fashion. They are also equipped to house guests and family overnight. A glass enclosure leads to the corridor that parts into the inpatient rooms. The glass enclosure is home to a garden with the flora of the region and forms the spine of the entire design. The plan which is in a triangular fashion is further connected to a support wing. The single-loaded corridor is airy and lets in an ample amount of sunlight. A centrally positioned nurses’ station caters to the needs of the patients and has direct access to each of the 12 rooms. The spirit of Arizona can be felt as one moves through this hospice.

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Exterior view of Sun Health Hospice. ©Book:Innovations in Hospice Architecture by Stephen Verderber and Ben J. Refuerzo
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Exterior view of Sun Health Hospice. ©Book:Innovations in Hospice Architecture by Stephen Verderber and Ben J. Refuerzo
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Plan of the Hospice. ©Book:Innovations in Hospice Architecture by Stephen Verderber and Ben J. Refuerzo

5. Bear Cottage Children’s Hospice, Manly, New South Wales, Australia

McConnel Smith and Johnson were challenged with the task of designing a hospice for children which does not take away the fun while remaining at close resemblance with the assigned function. Set in Australia, this hospice resembles a care-free tree house and a countryside house. Ten inpatient rooms each adorning the name of a local beach along with a meditation and counseling room connect to two terraces via wood deck bridges. Broad roof eaves and multiple screens shade the space effectively and act as a design element. Multi-sensory therapy spaces with light, sound, and aromatherapy amenities and meditative tree- house form the central features of this hospice. Bear Cottage’s canine mascot also resides within this complex. The surrounding woods seem to be closely linked with the hospice even while they are at the boundaries.

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Parents accommodation. ©John Halfide
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Parents accommodation. ©John Halfide
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The quiet room at the building’s eastern end. ©Sharrin Rees.

6. West Georgia Hospice, LaGrange, Georgia

Born out of the collaboration of Nix Mann and Perkins & Will, this 16-bed inpatient hospice is the perfect combination of fireplaces, clerestory windows, vaulted wood beam ceilings, and French doors. Circulation paths have been turned into social hotspots with window-side seating and overlapping social spaces. Inpatient rooms are clustered around a central courtyard in the form of miniature residences, each consisting of 4 inpatient rooms configured around a living room and porch. Each pair of bedrooms have access to a second patio. These residences also have patient support, kitchen, and dining area along with hydrotherapy, laundry, and dayroom. A circular outdoor court with screens beside the meditation room has been allocated at the end of the administrative block. Each of these residences is arranged around courtyards and furnished with home-like furniture to keep the ‘home’ feeling intact.

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Outdoor space at the West Georgia Hospice.©westgeorgiahospice.org
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The fireplace at the hospice.©westgeorgiahospice.org
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West Georgia hospice. ©www.westgeorgiahospice.org

7. Urban Hospice, Denmark

A design that is born out of the idea of a community-integrated hospice is what NORD Architects had in mind when they were set to design this project. Set amongst historic buildings and a very vibrant neighborhood, this hospice brings in the community as a design element. The design focuses on creating a relaxing and healing environment for the patients. A combination of curved and rectangular forms, the design establishes a style modern hospices could look like. The common area is built around an internal courtyard and the circulation paths are broken down into tiny parts. The facade uses several materials which gives it a tactile look and settles down right into the environment. The interiors are well lit and light tones have been used throughout contrasting to the exterior. The spaces were put together and serialized after several long discussions with the users which adds the final touch to the hospice.

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Site Plan of Urban Hospice. ©Nord Architects
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The internal courtyard at Urban Hospice. Image ©Adam Mørk
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The well-lit areas in the Urban Hospice ©Adam Mørk
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Urban hospice set in a Denmark neighbourhood. Image ©Adam Mørk

8. Hospice of the Central Coast, Monterey, California

This 28- bed hospice situated among the tranquilness of forest was the design project of Anshen & Allen Architects in San Francisco in early 1994. The hospice stands as an example of a hospice which lies on the residential spectrum rather than an institutionalized atmosphere even during those times. Two clusters of inpatient rooms are interconnected with outdoor spaces which render privacy as well as openness. The hospice looks like a series of interconnected buildings with various massing and roofing configurations. This was one of the early examples of hospices that managed to break through chilly monotonous corridors. The back to back arrangement of the inpatient rooms gives each room access to a private outdoor space with the shower located towards the inner side of the corridor connecting to each room and has a staggered entrance pattern. The circular configuration of the circulation keeps it easily viewable for the centrally placed single nurse’s station.


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Hospice of the Central Coast. ©Book:Innovations in Hospice Architecture by Stephen Verderber and Ben J. Refuerzo
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Hospice of the Central Coast. ©Book:Innovations in Hospice Architecture by Stephen Verderber and Ben J. Refuerzo
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Plan of the hospice. ©Book:Innovations in Hospice Architecture by Stephen Verderber and Ben J. Refuerzo
The welcoming lounge of the hospice ©Book:Innovations in Hospice Architecture by Stephen Verderber and Ben J. Refuerzo

9. Chu-lin Nursing Home and Hospice, I-Lan, Taiwan, R.O.C

The winning architectural design competition was chosen as the perfect option for the Chu-lin Nursing Home and Hospice in 1999. Under the vision of Sheng-Yuan Hwang Architects & Planners, Taiwan, R.O.C., this hospice was built amidst paddy fields and meant for the elderly as well as has provisions for the terminally ill. The site lies in a small rural community and the architects ensured the design would blend right in with the existing built fabric. The five-level build form is set against the backdrop of small farmhouses of the region. The entrance has been designed to replicate the existing duck farms and cisterns in the surrounding area. The floor plates are staggered across 6 different levels recreating the feel of the nearby mountains.

Most of the plan remains open with full-length windows that open onto the scenic surroundings. Materials have been sourced locally and hence local workforce was put into use. The staggering floor plates give a vibrant twist to every room and space created. The social gathering spaces on each floor have glass curtain walls giving uninterrupted views into the farmlands. The staircase is a very light element because of the absence of riser and solid rails which ensures that it does not obstruct visual connectivity.

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Floor Plans of the hospice ©Book:Innovations in Hospice Architecture by Stephen Verderber and Ben J. Refuerzo
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Hospice set amidst the paddy farms. ©Book :Innovations in Hospice Architecture by Stephen Verderber and Ben J. Refuerzo
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The hospice with the similar style of the surrounding buildings. ©Book:Innovations in Hospice Architecture by Stephen Verderber and Ben J. Refuerzo

10. North London Hospice, London

A hospice that gives the outlook of a giant house is what Alfred Hall Monaghan Morris thought when he was approached to design a hospice. He kept it simple by choosing regular materials like bricks, gabled roofs, and home furnishing which successfully renders the essence of a home. This also helped the hospice to blend perfectly within the neighborhood. The pale brick adds the tint of a public building as compared to the red brick houses. Three stories in height, the main part of the design is roofed by 2 gables. An informal lounge welcomes the patients and their visitors replacing the classic reception which takes away the institutional vibe. Private courtyards that open from the kitchen and dining area ensure that the patients have enough exposure to nature. The use of daylight lights up the interiors with promise and energy.

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Image Sources:

  1. Hospice Exterior. ©dezeen.com
  2. North London Hospice by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris. ©www.dezeen.com
  3. The interiors of the Hospice. ©dezeen.com

Reshmy Raphy has always been a lover of words. Pursuing final year of B.Arch, she is on her path to discover Architectural Journalism. She loves to learn about different cultures and architectural styles, approaches and people. It is this passion that brought her here on RTF.

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