London, United Kingdom
New York, New York
Masdar City, Abu Dhabi
Auckland, New Zealand
Hospitals have long hewed to the typology of a sterile environment that maximizes patient volume while minimizing cross-contamination. That motif is fading as hospital systems recognize the importance of design in human health and compete more vigorously for patient dollars, as well as medical talent. The result is a move towards design that takes its cues from hotels and spas, incorporating valet parking, high ceilings, mood lights, lounges, and artistic elements throughout. Much like design trends in retail and the workplace, too, the focus is on elements that visibly improve the user experience, from Wi-Fi connectivity and recharging stations to natural light and broader dining options. At the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital near Detroit, patients get access to a demonstration kitchen, “Live Well” shop, wellness centre, and even an organic greenhouse.
These spatial changes also come with a new service ethic that aims to humanize and elevate the patient experience. New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital, for one, now treats to parents to a candlelit dinner or champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries after the birth of their baby. Spa treatments, room service, and VIP packages are fast becoming the norm. For consumers who are used to getting a Botox shot at the mall or checking in with their doctor online, the concept of a hospital as a retail experience may feel familiar. For hospitals that have long relied on the revenue of foreign patients seeking lower-cost procedures, adopting a hotelier’s service ethic is second nature. Bangkok’s Bumrungrad International Hospital packages its treatments like getaway packages, even offering plane-to-hospital VIP services.
With its origami-inspired triangulated roof, brick-and-timber details, gardens, and courtyards, the rehabilitation unit feels more like a home or spa than a hospital clinic. The roof is designed to allow in maximum natural light, bringing solar access to internal corridors. A colour scheme that shifts from deep blue to grey and dark brown is inspired by the Aboriginal meaning of Woy Woy, which roughly translates to “much water” or “big lagoon.”
Multiple gardens and courtyards filled with native grasses and eucalyptus create a therapeutic and restorative outdoor space that’s seamlessly connected to the state-of-the-art facilities within. The result is a facility that nurtures the spirit while healing the body.