• July 8, 2024

This article is part of a series of conversations about the future of architecture and how it can be a driving force for innovation in healthcare environments.

In an increasingly urban world, the hospital is being called upon to manage its own density to ensure efficiency and better integration into its surroundings, whether they are urban or natural. This demands a new design approach that questions how we respond to both current and future needs in ways that benefit patients, healthcare staff, communities, and the environment.

The regenerative hospital, a key component of our Care+Design exploratory platform, offers a viable alternative to support the new and rapidly-evolving medical, technological, environmental, social and territorial realities of the healthcare sector. How? We discussed this with Associate & Practice Leader in Sustainability, Loïc Angot, and Associate Architect & Director of Market Intelligence in Healthcare, Antoine Buisseret.

1. A resilient, agile care environment (re)connected to its surroundings

Modular, adaptable, and evolving: The regenerative hospital moves away from concentrated monoblock and massive fortress hospital models to incorporate various types and uses to create a network of specific, cooperating units. This flexibility makes it possible to expand, reconfigure or redevelop the building to meet the needs of patients, caregivers, and communities.

But this can’t be achieved without thinking outside the box. If we are to stay one step ahead of future changes, we need to factor in reversibility and combine resilient models capable of evolving not only with time, but also to shifting demographic profiles and public health issues.

“Much like cities, hospitals are complex systems made up of a wide range of components that evolve at their own pace. But we’ve seen in recent years an increasing trend towards hyper concentrated installations, which fail to consider their varied lifecycles. We should instead draw inspiration from cityscapes and urban planning principles, with human-scale units that cooperate with one another,” says Antoine.

Reconciling openness and gentle densification, connections, fragmentation, adaptability, and specificity, the regenerative hospital advocates for an ecosystemic approach to care environments, transforming them into living territories. Its enhanced urban and landscaped spaces create a harmonious relationship with its surrounding context, while its connected islets make for a more accessible and welcoming site. A medium for urban living and social interaction, it blurs spatial boundaries between city, landscape, and public space.

2. A holistic approach to health and well-being

The regenerative hospital goes beyond the traditional “green building” and net-zero standards, integrating bioclimatic and biophilic strategies to achieve a real regenerative impact.

It establishes a special relationship with plants, integrating them in various ways to maximize their therapeutic benefits. We know that nature positively affects recovery, morale, stress, pain, and perception of time. One approach is to connect structures with buffer zones like gardens, shaded paths, or green esplanades.

These green spaces offer unobstructed views of the landscape from bedrooms and examination rooms as they promote natural ventilation, create cool zones, reduce noise pollution, filter air, and support biodiversity.

Providing a setting conducive to interactions and community activities, they also help break patients’ isolation and routines by stimulating their senses, mobility, and interpersonal skills.

3. A low-carbon solution

Loïc argues that this fragmented design approach is a decisive factor in decarbonizing the healthcare sector.   

“With decentralized buildings, architectural responses can be tailored to specific needs. We can also scale down systems and effectively control them on a floor-by-floor or room-by-room basis using integrated energy intelligence tools. This leads to a lower carbon footprint, considerable savings in energy bills and operating costs, and a greater comfort for users.”

While it can be applied to new projects, the regenerative model favors the reuse and rehabilitation of existing buildings through expansion and redevelopment projects. This strategy has multiple benefits from reducing obsolescence and enhancing architectural heritage and landscape to cutting down construction costs and embodied carbon.

Clinics, diagnostic centres, and other health and social services facilities could be set up in community-based and centrally-located buildings, including underused offices, former schools, or even vacant shopping malls.

“In industrialized countries like ours, there’s a tendency to neglect what’s already there and build new. But we can retrofit, modernize, or requalify existing infrastructures to turn them into sustainable care environments, using bioclimatic, biophilic and circular design strategies such as those embodied in our NET POSITIVETM framework,” adds Loïc.

By interacting with its context in morphological and functional terms, the regenerative hospital fosters a new, closer relationship between the city and the healthcare environment. Its adaptive, life-cycle based design offers tangible solutions to intersectional challenges such as carbon neutrality, organizational efficiency, flexibility, health, and quality of use. With this approach, we optimize the building, making it a truly healing setting.


Want to delve deeper into the subject? Explore our Care+Design ideas and strategies that will enable us to sustainably transform tomorrow’s care environments.