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CANCELLED CHM Reading Group - Friday 6 March 2020

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Location: R2.15 (CHM Hub) Ramphal Building, University of Warwick

Caring or Curing? Humanistic Design and Modern Hospital Environments 

Since 2013, seven new Maggie’s Centres, therapeutic spaces designed for cancer patients attached to NHS hospitals, have opened across the UK. These drop-in centres, according to the non-profit provider, offer a new type of support ‘a breathing space away from the hospital’. Architecturally, they are bold but informal with bright domestic interiors. They give material form to long-established critiques calling for the modern hospital to offer more humane standards of care.

How have such ideas of humanistic care changed over time? Do modern hospitals still represent ‘curing machines’, more concerned with diagnostic precision and clinical efficiency than care? If so, will initiatives such as the therapeutic drop-in centre challenge or merely re-affirm the established roles and prevailing interests of medicine? What does the debate over humane healthcare environments tell us about how the body is conceptualized by architects, clinicians and planners?

The group proposes to meet at 12:00 on Friday 6 March, in the Ramphal CHM Hub R2.15. A light lunch will be provided. We understand many of you will be away over the coming weeks, so please RSVP as soon as possible if you are able to attend.

The first reading provides a useful overview of ideas for softened healthcare design from a medical humanities perspective. The second, a more Foucauldian approach, traces a trajectory from ‘care to cure’ over the course of the twentieth century by exploring the intersections of architecture, health, and the body.


Readings (PDFs attached)

Victoria Bates, ‘”Humanizing” Healthcare Environments: Architecture, Art and Design in Modern Hospitals’, Design in Health, 2 (2018): 5 – 19.

David Theodore, ‘The Decline of the Hospital as a Healing Machine’ in Sarah Schrank and Didem Eckici (eds) Healing Spaces, Modern Architecture and the Body (London, 2016).


Best wishes

Daniela Cullum

Stefan Bernhardt-Radu

Ed DeVane

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