Learning from Europe

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Thursday 29 April 2004 at RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London W1B 1AD

Reflections on health building design policy, practice and projects

Professor Ray Moss

George Ferguson, President RIBA

French Lessons: Learning from French Hospital Design
Martin Sutcliffe, BDP Director of Healthcare

Viva Espana: Europe’s first Foundation Hospital, and recent/current projects at Valladolid, Santander, Lugo and Burgos
Luis Fernandez Inglada, Principal, Estudio Arquitectos Inglada Arevalo, Chief Architect, Alcorcon Foundation Hospital, Madrid

Going Dutch: Reflections on MARU Study Tours of Netherlands and Denmark
Rosemary Glanville, MARU

New European Models: Austrian and Norwegian precedents and their influence on current projects
David Ross, Keppie Design

Lessons and Opportunities: who needs to learn what from whom
Susan Francis, NHS Confederation and Estates


Thanks and Close

Report by Roger Walters, Bickerdike Allen Partners

A full house at the RIBA for the AfH event Learning from Europe was welcomed by President George Ferguson with an endorsement for the RIBA special interest groups and a plea for architects, especially in health and education, to inspire themselves and their clients. Ray Moss, AfH founding chairman, and chairman for the meeting suggested that this event was ‘timely, refreshing and interesting’ and so it proved to be.

A perhaps over-ambitious programme (sponsored by Maquet Variop Modular Theatres) offered 5 well illustrated presentations reflecting on current European healthcare design policy and practice. Some increasingly familiar schemes were prominent, Groningen (see Hospital Development 11/03) and Rikshospitalet (see Hospital Development 5/04) but there is evidence that these schemes are part of a wider European design practice that appears to offer both better quality and value than achieved here.

  • Martin Sutcliffe of BDP presented results from their collaboration with leading French healthcare architects Groupe6. A recent comparative research study (awaiting publication) reveals significant differences in cost, standards and quality. On this evidence it can be done both cheaper and better, ‘a holy grail’ but culture, standards, technology and procurement also vary.
  • Louis Fernandez Inglada highlighted further common themes in terms of the handling of single rooms and their implication for site configuration. Hospital management and design are seen to evolve together as illustrated in the schemes for recent foundation hospitals.
  • Rosemary Granville (MARU) warned that distinguishing between the culturally specific and the transferable requires care. MARU through regular study tours (recently Holland and Denmark) are developing comparisons on health estate planning and design. Common themes emerge in terms of non-institutional feel, masterplanning, and public space. Design quality is seen not to depend upon standards though these can be used both rigourously and effectively. If the culture permits they may not be necessary.
  • David Ross of Keppie Design gave a spirited defence of restrained efficient modernism as seen in recent Austrian and Scandanavian. Efficiency offers its own reassurance. Calmness can prevail especially if less prominence is given to the car. The cultural fit of this European approach offers clear advantages over North Americian hospitality approaches.
  • Sue Francis of the NHS Confederation and CHAD highlighted further examples of European practice highlighting the treatment of the hospital as a part of the urban fabric. Common demoninators can be found in terns of low rise open ended building, exploitation of daylight and a “village” approach. Urban design, humanist design and graeter technical sophistication are characterise a confident, inventive hospital design practice that is seen as part of mainstream architectural practice.

The subjects presented warrant further study. Interesting and refreshing precedents are plentiful. Drawing timely lessons may be more difficult without a broader understanding of key differences arising from further study of comparative financial, management and procurement custom and practice. A rich seam has nonetheless been revealed.

Event Sponsored by: Maquet Variop Modular Theatres

An Architects for Health Event – 29 April 2004


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