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News archive - July 2016

The future of healthcare and the built environment - with or beyond the hospital?

The future of healthcare and the built environment - with or beyond the hospital?

Catherine Simpson, landscape architect at HLM, explains how the principles of intelligent urban and hospital design can merge, creating a highly-connected, modern hospital within a parkland to positively impact mental and physical health.

With more than half of the world’s population living in cities, and this figure set to rise to 70% by 2050, global urbanisation is occurring at an unprecedented pace and, therefore, understanding the effects of the built environment on health is critical.

City living confers many benefits, but the negative influences of the urban environment and nature deprivation on human health are increasingly becoming better understood.

As the quantity of studies into environmental health benefits expands, and our understanding of the mechanisms by which contact with nature aids our health, it’s becoming increasingly clear that quality landscapes and natural environments are essential to human health.

The design of our cities, streets and parklands offers, not only the potential to mediate economic health discrepancies, lifestyle and mental illness, but ultimately to confer valuable potential cost savings to the health system through disease prevention.

The evidence supports health and care facilities that utilise green and therapeutic environments, fostering better health patterns and safer, more-rapid healing environments. These need to be sustainably incorporated into hospitals and the wider built environment to improve health and mental wellbeing.

The key is utilising the principles of intelligent urban and hospital design to create hospitals within parklands and landscapes that, not only provide patients with high-quality restorative and invigorating environments, but intelligently increase green public space, thereby endowing hospitals with highly-efficient, health-enhancing landscapes and civic architecture.

As we begin to understand more about what makes us healthy; there is an opportunity to reframe how we think about wellness and the hospital to put the hospital back in the pivotal role.

This is precisely what we are doing at HLM. We believe hospitals should, and can, be part of the urban fabric, not by just incorporating green courtyards that aid faster healing and reduced medication, but also substantial landscapes and parklands, therefore reframing the hospital at the centre of the population health movement.

Civic architecture and landscape are at the heart of The Royal Hospital for Sick Children and Department of Neurosciences in Edinburgh in Scotland, for example.

Currently being designed, the hospital uses best-practice architectural principles, with every bedroom given a view to surrounding parkland or one of the 22 health enhancing green courtyards. The hospital contributes to its environment through a strong civic architecture, increased green space and parkland, enhanced urban design, planting, and walking and bicycle tracks for health and fitness.

The design of the Edinburgh hospital is an exemplar and demonstrates the principles by which hospitals can take a more central role in the urban fabric, aiding wellness beyond the hospital walls.

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