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Agatharied District Hospital © Nickl und Partner, Photo: Stefan Müller-Naumann
© LIAG und MMEK’, Photo: Ewout Huibers

Planning and building hospitals requires special expertise. Whereas for a long time the architectural type developed closely along the lines of the successes and findings of medical research, hospital construction in the 20th century was increasingly shaped by factors such as efficiency, economy and rationalization. As a result, hospitals have become highly technical machines, while fundamental aspects of human dignity, the needs and feelings of the sick and nursing staff have receded into the background. Since the 1980s, approaches to a “Healing Architecture” have developed in America, which in the meantime have also influenced the discussion in Europe about a necessary reform of hospital construction and have again increasingly placed the sick person at the center of design and planning. Despite some successes, “healing architecture” lacks the broader public attention and political support needed to apply the “results of ‘Evidence-Based Design’ to the fullest extent in the construction of new hospitals and the remodeling of existing ones.

The exhibition “Building to heal – New Architecture for hospitals” at the Architekturmuseum der TU München in the Pinakothek der Moderne from July 12 to January 21, 2024, will, according to the announcement, critically examine “the scientific foundations of so-called ‘healing architecture'”, “its effectiveness and the ways and hurdles of its feasibility”. The aim is both to “take stock of current efforts to move from the ‘sick’ house to a healthy environment” and to attempt to “open up new perspectives into a more radical, visionary future.” A selection of outstanding examples will be used to trace “the productive interplay between medical, technical, and economic requirements and architectural construction.”

The show approaches the question of how architecture helps to heal in three sections: Experiment – Evidence and – Exchange. Among others, the “REHAB” in Basel by Herzog & de Meuron (2002), the “Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres” by Zaha Hadid (2006), OMA (2011) and Poster + Partners (2015) are presented. Under the rubric of “Evidence Based Design,” projects are measured against the “healing seven” in the hospital environment (orientation, olfactory backdrop, noise backdrop, privacy and retreat, power points, view and foresight, and human scale). In the third exhibition space, visitors* are invited to enter into dialogue through lectures, debates and workshops, and the installations “MAKING SENSE” by Norwegian artist and olfactory researcher Sissel Tolaas make “healing smells” tangible. The patronage of the exhibition was taken over by the Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach. The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive catalog in German and English (272 pages, 80 photos, 40 graphics).

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