Transforming Hospital Architecture

Architecture, Science, Milano

15.06.2022 H16:30-19:30
16.06.2022 H10:00-16:30

Architecture, Science

15.06.2022 H16:30-19:30
16.06.2022 H10:00-16:30

The workshop is open to the public and will take place at Istituto Svizzero, via del Vecchio Politecnico 3, Milan. The interventions will be held in English and Italian. Free entry.
Register for Wednesday 15.06.2022 here.
Register for Thursday 16.06.2022 here.

Transforming Hospital Architecture

The workshop focuses on the hospital as both object and hyper-object of architecture and design, in the light of its historical and contemporary transformations, from the scale of the bed to the scale of the city.

The architecture of the hospital presents irresolvable dilemmas for both cities and individual patients. At the scale of the city, an urban planner, seeking to optimize logistics and accessibility, might seek to place the hospital in the center. A different planner, concerned with rehabilitation and contagion, might argue that it should be far outside the city. Their two approaches cannot be resolved by a single plan. In order to satisfy the complex regulations that define hospital design, one architect might argue for a megastructure. Another might propose a precinct of buildings, a city within a city. Either way, technological change, upgrades and expansions will break apart single coherent buildings on the one hand, and slowly merge individual buildings into a single complex organism on the other. Hospitals owe their existence to multiple actors and interdisciplinary endeavors. As recent anthropological research demonstrates, the hospital is best thought of in its thick multiplicity (Kehr/Chabrol 2020). What is the designer to do in the face of such overwhelming complexity? This complexity also has a historical dimension. Since the Middle Ages, the hospital has been an institution in constant flux, continually shifting both its procedures and its architecture in response to societal changes, transformations in medical knowledge and political and epidemic events.
The workshop invites architects, architectural historians, and historians of medicine to reflect on this tangled history.

The event is part of Istituto Svizzero’s series INNOVATION, which identifies innovations in research, exploring their potentials and challenges from a technological and social perspective.

The event is organized in collaboration with the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture at ETH Zurich, and the Department of Architecture, Built environment and Construction engineering (ABC) at Politecnico di Milano.


Wednesday 15.06.2022

H16:30 – Greetings

H17:00-17:30 – Danielle Abdon (Rollins College/Florida), Building Ecological Health: Hospital Design for an Infirm City

H17:30-18:00 – Britta Hentschel (University of Liechtenstein), Social welfare on a new scale: The Ospedale degli Innocenti in Florence

Short break

H18:30 – KeynoteStefano Capolongo (Politecnico di Milano), Healing Architecture: the experience based approach for rethinking the hospital 4.0

Thursday 16.06.2022

H10:00-10:30 – Andrea Brambilla (Politecnico di Milano), Evidence Based Hospital Design. Development and test of tools for supporting healthcare architects, hospital designers and planners

H10:30-11:00 – Marco Gola (Politecnico di Milano), The role of Buffer Spaces in Hospital 4.0: design strategies for strategic areas to support ordinary and emergency activities

Coffee Break

H11:30-12:00 – Lydia Xynogala (gta Institute/ETH Zurich), The Birth of the Hydroclinic. Or what can we learn from the short life of a hospital alternative in 20th century Greece

H12:00-12:30 – Agnes Arnold-Forster (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), The Role of Charity in Hospital Rebuilding and Design: Guy’s Hospital Tower


H14:00-14:30 – Alberto Geuna (Politecnico di Milano), Life at the edge of deinstitutionalization: European Dementia Villages at the crossroad between home and hospital

H14:30-15:00 – Hermes Killer (ETH Zurich), The project for the Sociopsychiatric Clinic Parco di Casvegno: a cultural negotiation

Coffee break

H15:30-16:00 – Mona Farag (Christ & Gantenbein Zurich), The New Hospital: Considerations and Examinations

H16:00-16:30 – Anja Fröhlich (Laboratory EAST, Institute of Architecture, EPF Lausanne), Horizontal Healing. A Typological Perspective on Housing the Sick in History as a Spatial Manifestation of Knowledge