The newest issue of the Finnish Architectural Review focuses on contemporary hospital architecture. The review discusses the changing ideals of care facilities and presents hospital designs from various parts of Finland.
Healthcare systems are changing in Finland even though the protracted reform of health and social welfare services appears to be bogged down. At the same time, hospitals are being rebuilt: hospital construction projects worth over EUR 2 billion are currently under way or pending. The hospitals of the future will be day-activity centres where patients arrive in the morning and leave in the afternoon, preferably by means of public transport. “Even complicated surgical operations can be carried out in this way,” says Jouko Isolauri, Director of the Kanta-Häme Hospital District.
Advances made in medicine and treatment techniques influence hospital operations and design objectives. Currently, processes are evolving at such a fast rate that a hospital is already outdated when completed. “The easy transformation of spaces is indeed a precondition for the contemporary hospital,” says CEO Heikki S. Laherma, an architect and expert in hospital design. By investing in proper and well-timed design, it is possible to cut the operating costs of a hospital – which in the case of an acute-care hospital run up to hundreds of millions of euros per year – by 5–10 per cent, which represents millions in annual savings. Efficient design solutions and high-quality construction pay for themselves in a couple of years.
Healthcare premises have been and still remain a key component of the service culture of a welfare state. At the same time, they are significant public buildings, just like libraries and cultural centres. Professor Hennu Kjisik thinks that modern hospitals should reflect this standard also in architecture: “Hospital design should be seen as an urban project, as part of any living city. Hospital areas should be just as inviting and permeable as any other city block or neighbourhood.”