Architects for Health at the IHEEM conference 2012

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Architects for Health (AfH) organised  an excellent ‘conference within a conference’ at IHEEM in Manchester Central.

Entitled Designs on Health, AfH ran 4 sessions as part of the main conference programme. Three showcased good practice examples encompassing international, UK and interdisciplinary perspectives. A panel of experts from trusts and design practice further discussed how to encourage and achieve good design in the future.

Tye Farrow from Canada invited us to think about changing the conversation from driving principles for design that are pathogenic  to salutogenic ; that is moving from identifying detiorating disease patterns to looking at how to enhance health.

He set out 5 vital signs for this fresh approach to design :

  • Nature- connected to and viewing nature around
  • Authenticity- draws on meaningful local influences
  • Variety- sense of discovery
  • Vitality- place to energise
  • Legacy- promoting healthy lifestyles

And invited us to consider the question- Where will we set the bar?

Johannes Eggen set out the principles driving his work in Norway where it is the accepted norm to provide views, light and airy spaces in hospitals and simply not sufficient to make places that are only safe and clean. But he urged us to think how to make them of human scale and described his design as being about the poetry of small differences. Having an informed client is essential to sustain the continuity of the vision into operation. Making designs adaptable to the future is essential.

Will Wimshurst from Rogers Stirk Harbour eloquently walked us through the design for the Maggie’s Centre at Hammersmith describing the places made for quiet contemplation and social engagement in and around the centre. In the proposals for the Guys Cancer Centre he talked about  ‘the art of care and the science of treatment’ and described the way in which they were achieving human scale and identity in a 15 storey building adjacent to the Shard and Guys Tower- the tallest hospital in Europe.

Gareth Hoskins, Richard Murphy and Benedict Zucchi illustrated designs for buildings in the UK. Gareth’s design approach champions a clear diagram, being specific to the site and responding to user experience. Richard presented his ‘crusade against the corridor’ and the process of immersion in the brief to understand the needs of front line staff. Benedict  described a ‘hospital without precedent’ with the tensions of achieving long-life loose fit at the same time as developing a sense of place.

Design is an interdisciplinary activity and how these different approaches come together is both fascinating and essential to achieving good design.  Addressed by a doctor, architect, artist, graphic and product designers through various designs we understood how to make clinical processes more effective; use colour and graphics to assist wayfinding; make products that reduce medical errors; achieve scale and light in buildings; and bring joy and narrative to the work.

The debate focused on the future of healthcare design and we were invited by Rory Coonan in a provocative address to question current design policy to reduce the needs to ‘safe, clean and suitable’ with the tendency to retrench to standard template design for speed; to think about the notion of making SLOW SPACE- that which responds to people’s senses. All the panellists responded with reasons for making health buildings places for healing, finding clarity out of complexity, getting people engaged in the process. The knowledge gaps in the current system were acknowledged as an inhibiter to achieving these goals. We were presented with the sobering fact that 25% of patients in hospitals have cognitive problems such as dementia.

The success of our ‘conference within the conference’ was demonstrated by the high number of delegates attending each session. We certainly caused a stir in the discussions and we had fun doing it!

With thanks to our presenters

Will Wilmshurst, Tye Farrow, Johannes Eggen, Gareth Hoskins, Richard Murphy, Benedict Zucchi, Dr Ganeth Suntharalingam, Claudia Bloom, Kate Blee, Morag Myerscough and Mike Smart

And panelists

Rory Coonan , John Cole, Alastair Gorlay, Sarah Waller

And chairs

John Cooper, Chris Shaw and Susan Francis

Presentations available in PDF format.

Gareth Hoskins presentation

Tye Farrow presentation

William Wimshurst presentation_Part1
William Wimshurst presentation_Part2
William Wimshurst presentation_Part3
William Wimshurst presentation_Part4
Kate Blee & Claudia Bloom presentation_Part1
Kate Blee & Claudia Bloom presentation_Part2
Kate Blee & Claudia Bloom presentation_Part3
Kate Blee & Claudia Bloom presentation_Part4
Kate Blee & Claudia Bloom presentation_Part5

Johannes Eggen presentation_Part1
Johannes Eggen presentation_Part2
Johannes Eggen presentation_Part3
Johannes Eggen presentation_Part4
Johannes Eggen presentation_Part5
Johannes Eggen presentation_Part6
Johannes Eggen presentation_Part7
Johannes Eggen presentation_Part8


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