Functionality and technicality have long been held as absolute principles in the design of health facilities.
Design and architecture have been relegated to the background since the mid-20th century. The challenge was to heal the body, regardless of the built environment provided that it meets the strict standards of hygiene. As a consequence, hospitals and other medical facilities were similar, guided by the kind of clichés that were thought to be immutable. Increasingly, the buildings have multiplied to meet the growing needs in this area.
Fortunately, the healing virtues of healthcare facility planning and design have gradually been imposed, as has the urgency of humanizing these places dedicated to health. Architects played an essential role in this renewal. The typologies evolve towards more fragmented conceptions (pavilions, units), more flexible and evolutionary, to get rid of a major constraint: the generally significant surfaces of these buildings. The modernization of the existing park as well as the construction of new structures passes through other writings and innovative projects where the aesthetics occupy a place of choice.
Modern hospitals are designed to minimize the efforts of medical staff and reduce the risk of contamination while optimizing the effectiveness of the system as a whole. The length of staff travel within the hospital is reduced and transportation of patients from one unit to another facility. The building must integrate large departments, such as radiology and operating theaters while taking into account essential specificities regarding electrical connections, plumbing, and waste management.
However, we note that “modern” facility planning and design in healthcare are often the product of growth that spans decades or even centuries and is often poorly controlled. This growth has resulted in successive additions, necessary but disorganized, according to needs and financial resources.
Experts consider that many hospitals are disasters, anonymous and complex institutions with bureaucracy and entirely inadequate for the function for which they were created. They are usually not functional, and instead of putting patients at ease, they create stress and anxiety.
Some hospitals, more recent, are trying to find architectures that take into account the psychology of patients, such as better ventilation, clearer views or colors more pleasing to the eye. We reconnect with the old concepts of “good air” and “natural healing powers” that were used in the development of suburban hospitals.
Studies conducted by the British Medical Association have shown that good hospital architecture can reduce the healing period of patients. Sun exposure helps fight depression; single-sex rooms allow more privacy and promote a certain dignity of patients; the presence of green spaces and gardens is also essential: looking out the window improves the mood of patients, decreases their tension and their level of stress. The disappearance of long corridors reduces the fatigue and stress of nurses.
Another notable current change is the migration of a system of shared rooms divided by movable partitions into a system of individual rooms. The system of rooms that can be converted is considered very useful, especially by the medical staff, but it is much more stressful for patients and harms their privacy. But remains the significant constraint of the cost of these rooms and their maintenance, which pushes some hospitals to praise more expensive for individual rooms.