2004 marks the 10th Anniversary of Architects for Health. The society began as a loose association of architects in health planning, initiated by Professor Raymond Moss in early 1993, and was formalised in late 1993 with the appointment of an Executive Committee. The article below by Professor Moss, which appeared in Hospital Development in January 1993, reveals how it all began:
Putting the ‘head’ back into health planning
Since the disappearance of the Regional Architects, the NHS has been denied easily accessible and unbiased professional advice – and the results are beginning to show. Similarly, but at a different level, since the ‘agencification’ of NHS Estates (hardly an appropriate title for what used to be a Research and Development group) the intellectual leadership of the central department has been whittled away and ‘Estates’ is now perceived by many as being just another consultancy outfit.
One, possibly unforeseen, effect of all this is the removal of any forum for the serious discussion of health facility planning and matters related to planning, and of a respectable body to which either government or the press can refer for a ‘professional view’. For, sad though it may be, the RIBA does not have a hospital committee either! In a very real sense therefore the profession is ‘headless’ when it comes to the discussion of health planning matters.
In many respects, we now appear to be in the same position as many other countries who have not benefited from having centrally sponsored R&D. But on closer examination one finds that they have made other arrangements.
For example, Germany has a Hospitals Committee within the Architects Institute. So does the American Institute of Architects (Architects for Health). The Dutch architects have ‘STAGG’, their specialist hospital group, and so on. All these professional groups are represented on the Public Health Group of the International Union of Architects and their presence was felt keenly in contributions at October’s International Hospital Federation Pan Regional Conference.
The constant cry from Portland Place is for greater and greater economy and indeed preliminary suggestions for forming a RIBA Hospitals Committee prompted a rather frosty response on the grounds of ‘lack of resources’. But, most of the overseas groups charge their members a small fee for membership, and surely the same thing could happen here.
What I am proposing is that an RIBA Health and Hospitals Committee (or some other appropriate title) should be formed to whom the UIA/Public Health Group can relate and which could provide a focus for meetings, discussion, visits, publications, and so on. Furthermore, such a group could provide a corporate voice for architects in health planning.
Would anyone interested please write to me.
Professor Raymond Moss is a Founder, Executive Member and former Chair of Architects for Health. He currently practices as a consultant health planner.