Excerpt:‘Healing House’ is an architecture thesis by Niels Geerts from Amsterdam Academy of Architecture – AUA, Amsterdam University of the Arts, that explores healthcare architecture approached from the perspective of the patient and promotes regional healthcare. Healing House participates in a debate on a pressing vital social issue: the role of the present-day healthcare facility and the importance of architecture in this. This project bridges the gap between the patient’s very personal experiences and the practical, effective realm of healthcare.
Introduction: ‘Healing House’ is an architecture thesis that participates in a debate on a pressing vital social issue: the role of the present-day healthcare facility and the importance of architecture in this. The need for a healthy living environment is growing, and hospitals are being more frequently located on the outskirts of cities due to reduced expenses. In order to integrate care into the daily lives of residents and locals, Healing House performs the exact opposite and blends in with the existing living environment. By remaining traditional, Healing House innovates in this area by advocating for local care. Care was initially frequently provided at home. The approach is centred on a large informal care team that consists of carers as well as family, friends, and visitors.
Healing House is a proposal for a healthcare cluster on the current site of rehabilitation centre Reade Amsterdam, between the Vondelpark and the street Overtoom. The existing building forms a border. Healing House connects the city with the park and the patient with society.
This project is entirely approached from the perspective of the patient, in contrast with regular care projects. The question is constantly asked, “I wake up, then what?” and “How does your day look like?” Thus, Healing House bridges the gap between the patient’s very personal experiences and the practical, effective realm of healthcare.
The project is located between Vondelpark and Overtoom Street on the existing site of Reade Amsterdam, a rehab centre. Future plans call for the Reade Revalidation Centre to relocate from its existing location, freeing up the land. The present-day Reade structure separates itself from its surroundings. A ramp on the Overtoom’s side prevents the building and the street from coming into direct contact. Access to the park is restricted by an iron gate on the Vondelpark side.
Gardens, walkways, and water features surround the site. A variety of commercial buildings, including restaurants, cafes, and supermarkets, can be found on Overtoom Street. South of the location, there is a bridge. This area resembles the southwest corner of the Vondelpark a lot since there, too, private gardens border the park. From the garden, it seems to stretch on forever, and the park can plainly see the boundary on the other side.
The proposal makes use of the existing urban plan. The rhythm and material of the historically composed city street Overtoom is continued in the street facade, the Vondelpark gets an extension in the form of a garden, which continues into the building.
In order to gain a sense of the place, the approach began with an urban development study of the area. The initial insight was made when the architecture was considered from the perspective of the inhabitants. The horizontal view is significant in a typical project. The vertical view is especially crucial at a care facility since clients frequently lie down on their beds.
Both the transitions between spaces and the transition between building and park as a filter were studied. Slowly, the concept emerged to create entirely continuous spaces rather than corridors. The patient served as the new starting point. The bed was the inspiration for the initial design; it is rounded so that one can immerse themselves in it all day. The structure was gradually constructed from the bed.
The concept of the healing house emerged. Every patient has varied needs, and no patient is ever unique. One prefers the peace of nature, while the other seeks the energy of a busy city. The apartment that meets both requirements and allows the resident to independently choose his level of solitude and tranquillity serves as the project’s foundation.
From the bed, the building has expanded, and spaces have been gradually added. In its ultimate form, Healing House turned out to be extremely similar to Reade’s urban planning solution in terms of its main design, which was interesting and unintended. However, Healing House has a completely different design: the structure faces the city, and the quality of life for the patients and their loved ones as well as the development of spatial plans are here at the centre.
I-perspective: In an original move, the “I-perspective” was used in the design. The most personal aspect of the project—the bed—was the starting point. From there, more functions and areas were added, and the building’s scale expanded. From the apartment to the common areas with transitional spaces, to a health clinic, a spa as a sunken garden, an above-ground garden, and the environs.
The key is having a deep relationship with nature. The park is visible from every room. Gardens from the basement to the roof enable biodiverse life and promote healing on multiple layers.
Human Central: Every unit has a view of the park from the resident’s bed. The apartment grows more exposed to the rest of the building the closer one is to the street side. People spend a lot of time on the bed in a hospital or medical facility. It is crucial that the area around the bed be adaptable to support various uses. Another factor is that the importance of the vertical perspective is at least equal to that of the horizontal view.
Local Healthcare: ‘Residents’ at Healing House feel more like actual people and less like patients as a result of the facility’s shared functions with the surroundings. Additionally, it extends an invitation to the neighbourhood to come by and utilise the complex’s various semi-public amenities, including the sunken garden, the restaurants, and the health clinic. This fosters a community where healthy living is encouraged and where prevention is as much as important as cure.
Functionality & Buildability: Healing House has a clearer distribution of functions, by positioning a spacious public plinth and spa in a way that it can also be used by the city. The clinic has a moderate height accent that matches the Overtoom, and the bed house is built as a residential building for the street. Most of the materials are recycled, biodegradable, or sustainable. A rational 5.4m wooden CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) grid lies beneath the organic layout. All bathrooms and shafts are placed logically in the CLT grid that lies beneath the organic layout.
Social space & broad care team: The floorplan has been improved for efficiency by connecting common areas and staff quarters directly to the rooms rather than using corridors. This idea is in line with the plan’s design, which places a strong emphasis on voluntary interactions. Residents can connect with one another as well as nursing staff, family, and friends in these transitional spaces.
Conclusion: Many healthcare facilities have been constructed as effective machines, where insurance companies decide the quality of a vulnerable person’s life, as a result of the privatisation of healthcare. In Healing House, this is completely the opposite; here, the quality of life (and death) is paramount on all levels of the spectrum.
[This Academic Project has been published with text submitted by the student]
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