Architects for Health Study Tour 2005 Japan

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Observations from Japanese Healthcare and Elderly Care Facilities

This event was a presentation of observations gained from AfH study tour of Japan in November 2005. It was co-hosted by the Embassy of Japan and Architects for Health and held at the Embassy on 25 April 2006.

In recognition of the similar challenges faced by both Japan and the UK in the health sector, experts from the two countries were keen to exchange their know-how and expertise. To help foster such dialogue, Architects for Heath (AfH) undertook a study tour of Japan last November. That initiative provided fascinating insights into Japan, its healthcare and elderly facilities, and their design. On Tuesday 25th April 2006, six of the AfH participants in the tour joined by the Japanese host Doctor Atsuo Kakehi, head of the International Committee of the Japan Institute of Healthcare Architecture (JIHa), made a presentation of observations gained from their visit. Here is a summary of the presentations by six of the AfH participants and their PowerPoint followed by Dr Atsuo Kakehi’s presentation.

A more extensive coverage on the Study Tour can be found at the 2006 April Issue of the Hospital Development Magazine.

Link for the event’s review by the Embassy of Japan.


Dr Ann Noble: Introduction
Dr Ann Noble, Chair of Architects for Health expressed her thanks on behalf of the society for the kind invitation from the Embassy of Japan to hold the event this evening. The society had developed a close liaison with JIHa (the Japan Institute of Healthcare Architects) and had been invited to visit Japan in 2005 and this event celebrates that visit. However, within two hours we can only present a tiny portion of the wide and rich experience of the visit which forms a lasting educative and cultural experience for the whole group. We were enthralled by the kindness and generosity of our hosts, of whom there were a very large number, many eminent people and for that we are most grateful.

David Stark: Two Children’s Hospitals
David Stark presented the National Center for Child Health and Development in Tokyo which offers interdisciplinary paediatrics, maternal-fetal medicine, women’s health, and reproductive medicine, participating in cutting-edge research, such as fetal medicine, gene therapy, and stem cell research. Highlights included the atrium, the artwork, and the delivery rooms.
In the Aichi Children’s Hospital, its culture is reflected in the design and operation of the facilities. Doctors and nurses do not wear normal medical uniforms, and spaces are created which are child friendly in scale and décor. Art does not merely entail isolated play equipment and occasional murals, but has been fully integrated with the interior design throughout the hospital.

Nigel Greenhill: Architectural (Techno-cultural) Design
“Nigel Greenhill of Greenhill Jenner Architects focused on the simple “mechanics of life” observed in Japanese hospitals. Remarking how the plans of huge buildings are often generated from the ergonomics of the single patient room and its supporting appliances he illustrated how the parallel cultural development of 1) sophisticated and ubiquitous sliding doors and 2) of purpose designed hospital sanitary ware and services dispensed with many problems familiar to UK health architects, and also on how other details such as curtains, signs, and lighting, could enhance the patient experience.

Chris Sherwood: Impact of Technology
Chris Sherwood highlighted the use of technology in Japanese healthcare, including earthquake engineering measures, the dramatic cantilevered structure of Kawasaki Hospital, the automated materials delivery systems at Kawasaki, University of Tokyo, and University of Nagoya Hospitals, the large staff bases at UTH and Rinkai, which are connected to the delivery systems, and act as ward nerve centres, the stand alone theatres with integral imaging at Nagoya, sophisticated 3D imaging techniques, and the seeing-eye robot at Hospex 2005.

Claudia Bloom: Elderly care and therapeutic environment
This presentation reviewed the Shinju-En elderly care home and the theme of therapeutic environments throughout all the healthcare premises visited.
Shinju-En was shown to be a really considered piece of architecture – cleverly using extremely economic materials to produce a beautifully detailed and genuinely therapeutic environment. For the visiting group the humanity of the facility had shone through.
The best examples of architectural design and patient environments were then described and interesting details identified through the children’s and acute hospitals visited.

Yuli Toh: Landscape and the relationship between Interior and Exterior:
On our visits we observed details, and examples of design that caught our eye and left a lasting impression on the relationship between the internal and external environments. Yuli Toh presented these in 5 themes; The Threshold, The Window, The Intermediate Space, Memory and A Room with a View. The best examples where shown of sensitive treatments of threshold, entrances and windows. Attention was drawn to the use of the space-in-between for privacy. Examples of the importance and beauty of memory in healthcare design was shown. Yuli also touched on successful ways to cope with high-rise hospitals.


The seminar Education: Opening the Debate was presented by Architects for Health following the AGM on 30 November 2006 at the new Libeskind Lecture Space at the London Metropolitan University.

With rare exception, healthcare facility planning and design is not taught in schools of architecture in the UK. This absence on the curricula has a direct effect on the perception that students, staff and the profession have of the skill base and competences which flow into practice.

Keynote Speakers

  • Professor George J Mann – AIA, is the Skaggs-Sprague Endowed Professor of Health Facilities Design at Texas A&M University, USA. He has published numerous articles, and research reports giving presentations of his findings on both national and international levels. Biography
  • Professor Bas Molenaar – professor of architectural design & healthcare at Eindhoven Technology University, Netherlands. Biography
  • Professor Ake Wiklund – professor of architectural design & healthcare at the School of Architecture at Chalmers University of Technology, in Gothenburg, Sweden. Biography



Welcoming from London Metropolitan University

  • Professor Graeme Evans – director of the Cities Institute, a multidisciplinary research institute working across sustainable urban environments and design, transport, housing and regeneration. Biography

Event Sponsor: Draeger Medical


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