The architectural competition to design the new hospital was launched in September 1995. Promoted by the Homoeopathic Hospital and West Glasgow Hospitals University NHS Trust, the competition was supported by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, by Project Scotland and by the City of Glasgow in anticipation of its role as European City of Architecture and Design in 1999.
As a result the architects who applied were responding to the new vision of care put laid out in the brief by Dr David Reilly, Director of the new Homoeopathic Hospital Project and his colleagues. This stated: “Glasgow’s new Homoeopathic Hospital will serve as a focus of care which will draw upon modern and traditional approaches to create good medicine.” It went on: “This new hospital will signal its healing purpose to viewers from the outside. It will also create an harmonious interior environment that will help in the process of healing.”
A distinguished panel of judges was set up that included Jimmy Cosgrove Deputy Director of the Glasgow School of Art, Michael Hayes, Director of Planning and Development, City of Glasgow Council. Jane Herbert, CEO West Glasgow Hospitals University NHS Trust, David Mackay MBM Architects, Dr David Reilly and Christine Wolter, Treasurer of the Friends of Glasgow Homoeopathic Hospital. They decided that the entry submitted by Macmon Architects had most creatively fulfilled the brief. They proposed a building design of elegance and seeming simplicity that would not only satisfy the hospital’s meticulous operating requirements but also included best practice strategies for energy use and sustainable design.
The architects from Macmon also expressed great willingness and enthusiasm to engage with patients, carers, staff and Trust managers.
“We aim to help people self-heal – if possible from their disease, but always from their suffering. We wish to create a space, a place, an atmosphere, an approach and an experience that helps this healing happen.” - Dr David Reilly, Introduction to the Architectural Competition for GHH, 1995
Designing the Space
The design brief for GHH posed various challenges and opportunities, including prescriptive space standards, derived from NHS guidelines for all accommodation elements. It asked for:
A building form and layout that would facilitate extension yet retain visual excellence, extended or not.
Stringent cost limits, set within normal yardstick costs for accommodation of its type.
Macmon’s architects therefore set out to respond in a ‘holistic’ way to both the hospitals operating requirements and the significant environmental issues, posed by the shape of the site, and its proximity to a busy rail route. Their solution was to create a L-shaped building with defensible courtyard. In their design, the interior and exterior of the building would provide an integrated care and healing environment, where all patient rooms would have access to and could be accessed from the landscaped garden. The chosen layout also meant that the entrance could be located in the North East corner of the building so that it would be protected from prevailing south-westerly winds and driving rain.
Principle building elements have also been carefully planned within the structures efficient and affordable geometry. Reception and Dispensary elements are centrally located to optimize access and use, while accommodation elements that are of lesser significance in constructional terms are intended to reflect more directly natural forms and layout. Existing pedestrian routes have been respected and a new in/out vehicle ‘drop off/park’ arrangement has been created.
The general arrangement and juxtaposition of departments within GHH, creates provide a passive, low energy hospital environment that it highly functional and beautiful to behold.
“Thank you so much for everything you have created at the hospital. I wonder if you realise how important it is for those of us who depend upon it's environment to calm us, strengthen us, and then send us out into the world to cope for another while.” - Patient.
The Healing Space
At Glasgow Homoeopathic Hospital, patients are treated with the utmost respect and dignity. The building has been designed to meet both the physical and psychological needs of the patients, rather than forcing them to adapt to the operational needs of the hospital or any arbitrary architectural principles.
The exterior of the building is welcoming – not threatening – and is much larger than it first appears. The reception area is open, with a friendly interior, and bears a greater resemblance to a Scandinavian health spa than a fully functioning modern hospital capable of treating 10,000 outpatients and 500 inpatients every year.
The layout of the building offers a functional elegance to match first expectations. After discussion with staff and patients, the design was modified slightly so that ‘care’ spaces have a direct view and connection to nature and are protected from direct sound paths, while staff areas are located to the north and east of the building to avoid direct sunlight during working hours. Roof/clerestory arrangements provide natural lighting for deep plan corridors, waiting areas and enhances, as well as enhancing natural airflow and ventilation throughout the building.
Since staff face the sometimes demanding task of dealing with some very sick patients, some of whom have been previously viewed as untreatable, the Design Team has placed an equal emphasis on ensuring that staff health and wellbeing is given a similar level of priority. Not only are the consulting rooms and therapeutic areas positioned and fitted in an attractive and functional manner, but the staff rest areas and dining room have also been constructed and decorated in the same fastidious manner.
“We have so much more space than we had before: it’s unreal. The building is rather deceptive because inside there is more space than light than you think from the outside.“ - Morag White, Physiotherapist
The current building represents phase one of the project to replace the old 15 bed hospital from the 1930s. The only wholly new feature within the new hospital is a 40-seater seminar room.
A Phase Two is being considered, if the necessary funds can be raised, which will incorporate a range of new facilities, including:
- a water therapy area
- an academic area, for conferences, research and teaching
- a multi-use space for therapeutic arts such as dance and music
- a café-bistro and a retail pharmacy
The aim is to create a ‘wellness’ centre that breaks down the traditional barriers between the hospital and the outside world and the artificial divisions within medicine. Here people could come in the evening and have water therapy, massage and aromatherapy and enjoy great food in the café-bistro.
The Design Team at GHH are also very keen to consult and advise on best practice to improve the quality of health care provision in Scotland and the UK. Their experience at GHH has shown that a modern hospital does not need to be a cold, threatening environment, but can be designed with the comfort of the patient uppermost in the mind – without any additional cost per square metre over a standard NHS hospital. Add to this the incalculable benefits to the patients in terms of improved health and well-being, and GHH believe they can offer overwhelming arguments for change.
This desire seems to already bearing fruit with the local NHS Trust adopting GHH as the new standard for future NHS building design in the area.
“The question of the effective therapeutic relationship is very important in all this. If there is a healing, constructive relationship between doctor and patient, the together we can go forward and look for answers.” - Dr David Reilly, Director