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Health Place. 2004 Jun;10(2):117-28.

Therapy by design: evaluating the UK hospital building program.

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Department of Geography, University of North Carolina, CB# 3220, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3220, USA.


A renewed interest in hospital design in the UK, prompted by the Private Finance Initiative, provides an opportunity to consider hospitals as 'therapeutic environments'. Noting that the therapeutic value of hospitals is related to their physical, social and symbolic design, this paper argues that 'expert' knowledges have encouraged the development of hospitals that all-too-rarely provide benign settings for promoting patient recovery and healing. The recent programme of hospital building in the UK, however, has been accompanied by a vigorous debate over what constitutes good hospital design, with four significant ideas emerging: hospitals should be clinically efficient, be integrated within the community, be accessible to consumers and the public, and encourage patient and staff well-being. Suggesting that all four goals demand careful consideration of the real and imagined spatiality of hospital environments, the paper concludes by suggesting ways that health geographers can contribute to debates surrounding PFI hospital design.

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