Those responsible for designing hospitals have always faced the challenge of creating environments for people coping with particularly difficult circumstances in their lives. Professor Nickl-Weller: “In addition, today’s hospitals are highly technological and complex buildings. Processes are always closely linked to the medical equipment, which takes up an enormous amount of both space and money. This can quickly give the impression of the ‘hospital as a health machine’. It is therefore the architect’s job to make space for the human touch in this completely rationalized environment.”
While research and practical implementation along the lines of healing architecture are already well established in countries such as the UK and Scandinavia, Germany is still at the very beginning in both respects. “But there is a noticeable and growing willingness to see the connection between the space that surrounds humans and their wellbeing. And this is happening on the part of both architects and the stakeholders in building undertakings, whether they be decision-makers, suppliers or users” says Professor Nickl-Weller.
It is important to take a much wider perspective when designing spaces in the healthcare sector. And this includes collaboration between researchers, doctors, architects and engineers. Professor Nickl-Weller: “Although it is sometimes not easy to find a common language, an interdisciplinary approach is the only way to improve hospital architecture in Germany. The more people we can reach with the idea of ‘healing architecture’, the greater the willingness on the part of legislative bodies and those who commission the buildings to place greater value on architecture in healthcare.” The newly established European Network Architecture for Health (ENAH) at the Technical University in Berlin is also intended to fill the vacuum in Germany and boost the presence of pan-European research and projects in this country. Studies and a greater awareness of the issue can help to ensure that a holistic way of thinking in building in the healthcare sector will also take root in Germany. After all, as Professor Nickl-Weller puts it: “Architecture can do more than is expected of it. And that is particularly true in the healthcare sector.”