The nexus of form and function

Monday 01 Jul 2013

White Arkitekter AB and Allford Hall Monaghan Morris win 2013 Healthcare Sector

This year’s Healthcare Sector judging day contained all the tension and excitement one would expect from any quality medical drama. The sheer range of international projects and unique solutions to societal health issues made it a very challenging day. Not only was there the issue of scale from the smallest dental clinic to the largest hospital campus, but the tussle of the flamboyant design heart against the pragmatic medical head.

The judging panel that cast their expert eyes over the projects were Pamela Bate of Hopkins Architects, Bromme Cole of Hampton Hoerter China, John Hicks of AECOM, Stanton Kroenert of Woods Bagot and Mike Rawlinson of Spire Healthcare.

The Completed Schemes winner is North London Hospice, England by Alford Hall Monaghan Morris. It was felt that despite the far smaller scale, it ‘ticked all the boxes as a whole’ according to Pamela Bate. Mike Rawlinson stated that, compared to the far larger scale projects, ‘it’s a little house. But it’s a little house that’s addressing the specifics in that location for the specific elements of that area of healthcare…[It’s] absolutely right for what it’s supposed to be doing’.

Stanton Kroenert thought: "This design addresses all of the concerns of a palliative care facility, in a very subtle way. The design provides a logical plan which aids in the delivery of care, as well as a palette of materials which convey a sense of ‘home’. A simple and elegant solution."

Generally, all the panel were impressed by the scale and thought that it looked like a well-used facility that added to the surrounding area without imposing anything on it. In addition, special comment was set out in the way AHMM presented the project - by using photography of people using the facility effectively. Pamela Bate said: "It looks well used, it also sits well in its context, relates to its environment and it's great architecture."

The Future Schemes winner is the New Psychiatric Clinic in Boras, Sweden by White Arkitekter AB Pamela Bate loved the feel of the project and the way the ‘landscape entered the building’, while Mike Rawlinson believed that, bearing in mind that this is a future project, ‘at this stage of the planning, the approach and the thoughts on what they are trying to achieve, I like.’

Stanton Kroenert stated: "Simply spectacular. The use of natural light and its surroundings will provide patients with an experience that will aid significantly in the healing process. They have achieved a ‘non-institutional’ feel; in fact, the design would not be out of place in a high-end travel brochure. The patient room has no design clutter, rather, it has a soothing, monastic feel, focussing on the natural surrounds. A cerebral solution to a mental problem."

John Hicks, with his Cost Consultant hat on, pointed out that it would always be good to know the starting point of a future scheme and, of course, the clairvoyance to see how it would look beyond concept after regulations and robust finishes had been applied. However the feeling that the project by White Arkitekter ‘told the best story’ was unanimous.

Bromme Cole reflected: "We had mega projects and small, very intimate projects and it’s always, irrespective of size, the nexus of form and function that motivates and excites me, and the nexus of design and use and the architect needs to demonstrate that to capture my attention. I think that our shortlist did that and I think our winner captured the essence of those two things."

Congratulations to both AHMM and White Arkitekter!

Jim Davis

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