Hospitals provide acute care but providing a prolonged environment for healing is not their top priority. ‘Cut, connect and insert’ tactics are used to exploit fragmented and underused urban spaces and to create a network of healing spaces within the city.
London is abound in opportunities to support recovering patients, old and vulnerable people, who are not considered a high enough priority to be treated in hospitals.
Fragmented interstitial spaces formed from alleyways, hidden courtyards and 'ambiguous ground levels' (level changes) can be utilised to provide and network healing spaces. Ones which are integrated into the ordinary and everyday, outside of the hospital.
Under a PFI led strategy, St. Bartholomew's Hospital is consolidating its facilities, prompting closure of smaller surrounding hospitals and monopolising healthcare over a whole area. Recently, The hospital has opened a new large cancer and cardiac centre, a new Maggie's Centre has also been proposed opposite the cancer unit.
Despite the expansions, other facilities are left poorly utilised at St Bartholomew’s. A swimming pool is now being used as an archival storage; Patient accommodations are to be demolished, and a garden behind the hospital church is devoid of activity.
‘Cut, connect and insert’ tactics are used to exploit fragmented and underused urban spaces and to create a network of healing spaces within the city rather than making one big institution to cover all the requirements.
Being old, being sick and recovering are a part of life. The concept of healing space is similar to Maggie's Centre, but the project emphasises the importance of accessibility to the everyday environment. While being hospitalised, patients can suffer from institutional syndrome and isolation caused by a lack of interaction with the ‘everyday’. The proposal creates a journey of healing and supports the patient’s stable return to their everyday lives and activities.
Georgian Houses are transformed. A glazed roof introduced, vertical space is opened behind the façade bringing light and the street into the building, blurring the boundaries of public and private. Consultation room, communal living room, caretaker’s bedroom and patient’s bedrooms are inserted; the courtyard circulates air, and together with internal vertical shafts, transports the scent of flowers and plants to the interior.
A linear path was made possible from Farringdon Station, through St John’s Garden, a Georgian terraced houses and out to Britton Street. Patients/old people can enjoy the journey through bedroom, shared living room, courtyard, reading room, walking rehabilitation corridor, swimming pool and nursery.
Series of translucent materials are employed in insertions to achieve grades of privacy and interaction required for recovering patients and old people. Through a translucent floor in a bedroom of temporary accommodation, the subtle silhouette of patients can be seen from communal living room, thus warning the passerby whether the patient is in a state of emergency and in need of help.
Heat storage heats the wall and bed. A cast concrete element in the opening functions as a platform in the corridor and bench in the bedroom, bridging the spaces.
The insertion turns the existing stair connecting 'ambiguous ground levels' (level changes) into rooms which could be occupied by two users, where circulation of two are intertwined.
An intricate gap in the wall creates a sharp shaft of light and a glowing wall.
A shared living room can be observed from the caretaker's bedroom. The skylights and series of structural glass floors bring natural light deep down into the building.
Reading room mediates between the living spaces and rehabilitation corridor.
The nursery wraps around the rehabilitation pool in order for recovery patients and old people to be encouraged by the vibrant voices of children. Patients and old people will no longer feel isolated.
Barefoot walking has a therapeutic effect. The corridor offers many types of surface to walk on such as warm pebbles, grass and water.