We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.
Winston Churchill said this to the members of the House of Commons in 1943 when they were discussing whether or not to rebuild their chamber in the Palace of Westminster, which was destroyed in 1941 during one of the last raids of the World War II.
It's a quote that's been used for years by design professionals to help explain the influence of design on human behavior. For healthcare design professionals, though, it has particular significance, because of the impact the design of the physical environment can have on clinical outcomes. High stakes, indeed.
The hospital is a human invention and as such can be reinvented any time.
I'm not sure when Healthcare Futurist Leland R. Kaiser, Ph.D., first said this, but it is a quote that we used often in presentations when I was at The Center for Health Design. For those of you who are building a new hospital or renovating an old one, Kaiser's words are a good reminder to never just do what's been done before.
Which is pretty much what Churchill did when he convinced the members of the House of Commons to rebuild their chamber in a simplified version of its old form. Like the previous chamber, the new one was not big enough to seat all the members. Churchill didn't care. He wanted it to fill beyond capacity at critical votes and moments to create a sense of crowd and urgency.
Okay, so building the same old building worked for the British government back then. But it wouldn't work for healthcare. If everyone continued to just build the same old hospital, we'd still have open wards and stark white walls.
Instead, we have new hospitals that incorporate natural light, have single-bed patient rooms and comfortable waiting areas. Color, artwork. Access to nature.
So, we need to remember the wisdom that lies within these quotes. And keep sharing them, over and over again.
What other quotes inspire your work?
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