Building For Wellness: Architectural Responses to the Changing Needs of Health Care

This exhibition at Harbourfront’s Architecture Gallery in Toronto is curated by Patrick Macaulay, and features the work of Diamond Schmitt Architects, KPMB Architects, Stantec Inc. and HDR Inc., Patrick Spear, Ian Chodikoff, and a visual arts installation by Brendan George Ko.

What role does architecture play in the health of people? In this time of mass data exchange, can technology change how we interact with our health-care providers? How should society as a whole address the health care needs of its population?

We are never more aware of the fragility of our health than when we are sick or injured. It’s in this vulnerable state that we often seek help at a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital. The experience of entering these traditional health-care institutions can be daunting as we put ourselves in the hands of the medical system.

The design and layout of health-care facilities is nearly homogenous across Canada, subscribing to the tenet that form follows function. The purpose of these utilitarian buildings is the efficient administration of medical services. Beyond a coat of mint green paint on the walls, little consideration has been given to the relationship between design and patient health. Recently, there has been a shift in thinking about patient care toward a more holistic approach that treats the patient from a range of perspectives. By valuing the breadth of a patient’s needs, this approach allows for medical facilities to move beyond the utilitarian. Design becomes a valid factor in the emotional and psychological well-being of a patient. Furthermore, the site of health care has the potential to move beyond the traditional institutions. Building for Wellness asks architects to explore new approaches to hospital design, patient care and citizen health as a factor in urban design.

The exhibition runs from January 23-June 8, 2014.

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