What are the challenges of the hospital of the future?
Hospitals are among the largest employers in virtually every city in the world. In addition, the urban population is growing steadily, concentrating human activity in increasingly dense areas. Hospitals are key socio-economic actors: sustaining health institutions in the heart of cities therefore responds to a clear economic and functional logic. To achieve this, the qualitative integration of hospitals in the urban fabric is a major issue.
Rethinking the hospital environment
The evolution of medicine and the digitalisation of society both have a profound impact on the design of spaces and the functional organisation in hospitals. This is a unique opportunity to rethink the hospital environment: miniaturised and confined to the treatment areas, modern techniques are discreet and can make room for warm and welcoming reception areas integrated within the hospital. Softening the transition to hospital and strengthening the social and societal integration of the institution in the city is essential – so that entry into the hospital feels more natural. This can be achieved by hosting cultural, educational, recreational or commercial activities at the interface with the public space outside the walls. It ensures healthcare facilities are fully inscribed in their urban environment.
Creating spaces of permeability
These “spaces of permeability” between city and hospital are an essential step in the patients’ journey. The transition from the urban space (very public) to spaces of consultation, treatment or accommodation (essentially private) now takes the form of a continuum rather than a break. Similarly, to maintain the relevance of outpatient care in a hospital setting, it requires ultra-short circuits ensuring patients spend as little time as possible within the hospital. This requires great fluidity and openness in exchanges between the hospital and the outside world. In addition, as a result of the drastic reduction in residence time for most patients, new intermediary facilities, such as patient hotels, also play a role in this interface. In this spirit, our project for the Tournai Hospital (CHwapi) has been the subject of a holistic reflection centred on the current place of a large health institution in the heart of the city, featuring soft mobility and shared space as founding elements of the project.
Case study - CHWAPI
How do we make a major hospital a good neighbour?
Integrating into the circular economy
An urban hospital may also carry civic ambitions beyond the strictly hospital setting; the hospital acts as a “catalyst” to develop or revitalise a neighbourhood. In this context, the proposed masterplan for the Joseph Bracops Hospital in Anderlecht is designed as a driving force for local activity, opening the hospital to the city and incorporating public space into the heart of the project. Fully integrating into the logic of the circular economy, the project proposes three main axes of development for the urban hospital of the future: urban planning (via the creation of gardens and public spaces), functional (integration in the hospital of activities shared with the neighbourhood) and ecological (energy autonomy, re-use and reversibility).
Case study - BRACOPS