Organization: Texas A&M Health Science Center
Event: 2nd International History of Medicine Symposium
Location: Bryan, Texas
Date: February 25, 2017
As Keynote Speaker, Dochitect was introduced by Kirk Hamilton, Fellow & Associate Director of the Center for Health Systems & Design and Professor of Architecture at Texas A&M University.
The notion of our health is no longer identified primarily by the absence of illness, but instead has expanded to include a general state of well-being. In medicine, as in architecture, it seems that our ambition for total well-being has become fragmented, due in part to the subspecialisation of medical science, in addition to the rise of complex chronic illness and the need for multiple buildings types for delivering care- from our homes to traditional hospital buildings and now freestanding ambulatory centers.
The sanatorium as therapeutic architecture
The histories of hospital architecture and medical practices have rarely converged. The design of the tuberculosis sanatorium during the early 20th century illustrates this infrequent intersection; the healthy building emphasizing contact with nature, developed to prevent the spread of contagions by isolating patients and preparing them for a return to normal life. As it preceded the era of antibiotic therapy, the sanatorium model did not necessarily offer any true effective treatment. With the advent of pharmaceutical treatments and critical care technology, hospital design moved into a more industrial period of machine-like centers designed to provide all levels of life-sustaining care. While medical science can often disguise mortality with technology, we are now revisiting the sanatorium model to de-medicalize architecture.
The future of healthy design
How do clinicians and architects find a balance between illness, health, and design? To consider therapeutic design as a possible form of treatment requires participation of both the patient and the caregiver. It may be time to shift our thinking and develop healthcare architecture focused on prevention, rehabilitation, and independent living by taking lessons from the sanatorium model. A future in which design of collective spaces can promote this convergence of care alongside cure should be our goal.