Improving Healthcare with Architecture

Published 2018-12-21

The healthcare in Gothenburg is facing many significant changes, in which the architects play an important role. Lisa Wänström, architect at Semrén & Månsson, recently spoke about this at the conference ‘Framtidens Operationsavdelning 2018’ (The Surgical Ward of the Future 2018) in Stockholm. ”The facilities we design should both support the healthcare staff in their work environment and give the patient a better experience at the hospital. You could say that the architecture should communicate a story of recovery.”

In the spring of 2017, Semrén & Månsson won a competition, in partnership with Norconsult, to design one of the two new specialist hospitals planned to be built in Gothenburg. The lecture held by Lisa Wänström was based on the conceptual program that had been developed for the specialist hospital the previous year. She talked about how architects, healthcare professionals, and focus groups were working closely together to explore the limits of how modern specialist healthcare can be run. A challenge that places equal emphasis on how the facilities are designed and on the patient's position in the healthcare environment.

”Working with healthcare architecture comes with great responsibility. We design facilities where people have to spend time while they are in a vulnerable state. As an architect, you must bridge the gap between the technology-dense surgery rooms and the more soothing environments in the healing and recovery units. Primarily we want the patient to feel safe and in control of their healthcare situation”, says Lisa Wänström, who has long experience in the field.

Separate professions in close collaboration

Joining Lisa Wänström's lecture is Marie Tauson, head of unit for the healthcare department at Frölunda Specialist Hospital, and project manager for the day surgery unit in the process of establishing the new specialist hospitals. The collaboration between different professions is exceptional for hospital projects. In the conceptual development of the two specialist hospitals, surgery nurses as well as logistics experts, have contributed. This method is a given condition for planning facilities that support the business, says Lisa Wänström.

Light and greenery make us healthier.

The fact that architecture has an essential role in the recovery of a patient has been established through research. Today the conversation is increasingly about evidence-based architecture, where, for example, the access to daylight and outdoor views in the patient areas have been proven to shorten the duration of a patient's stay.

”These are thoughts architects have been highlighting for a long time, and it is exciting that it is being recognized in regards to hospital planning", says Lena Kristiansson, architect and manager for Semrén & Månsson's healthcare studio, mentioning the firm's previous project Sollentuna Hospital as a good example.

In the project with Sollentuna Hospital, the theme was ‘Bring the Park Inside’ with views of the surrounding nature. Wooden elements and plants are incorporated in all wards of the hospital, with an emphasis on areas with high patient activity such as entrance halls, waiting rooms and day-rooms.

With roots that reach back to the 1960’s, there is no lack of experience within the healthcare studio at Semrén and Månsson. Apart from the new specialist hospital in Gothenburg, the studio is working with the rebuilding and extension of the Skaraborgs Hospital in Skövde. In tandem, the architects participate in the public debate, recently as critics in student projects in the course ‘The Work Room’ at Chalmers University.