The first meeting of the NLA Expert Panel on Healthcare brought together a leading group of experts working in the built environment who specialise in designing, developing and regulating for the healthcare and knowledge economy sector within London and the UK but also from around the globe.
The new NLA Expert Panel on Healthcare comes together at a precipitous time; as the country’s healthcare administrators and clinicians reflect on what they have been through the last six months and prepare for potential future Covid waves, but at the same time contemplate seemingly the largest capital investment in the sector in well over a decade. The perspective and understanding that London development, consultant and construction professionals can provide at this time of accelerated change could prove uniquely influential at this undeniable moment of flux.
As you would expect given this context and the range of experience on the panel, the discussion was insightful and wide-ranging. We jumped from questions of resilience (both pandemic and climatic) to the demands of an ageing population within and outside of hospital. Conversations returned often to the developing role of data and technology in healthcare systems, and how that interfaces with, and places new demands upon, the built environment. Throughout, panel members recounted anecdotally how they had responded and adapted to the emergency needs of their healthcare clients throughout 2020.
An interesting, and perhaps critical, observation from those working or operating internationally was the degree to which design quality did not consistently seem to be at the centre of UK consultant selection or briefing processes in the way that it might be in-for-instance Scandanavia. In a sector where technical and programmatic constraints can all-to-easily overwhelm the universal architectural concerns of space, materiality, form and identity amongst others, what might that mean for the new wave of British hospitals? And how might we as a panel encourage that to be redressed?
In terms of the key themes we will explore in coming meetings there was a consensus around focusing one session on the near term; what has the pandemic changed forever in our places of care, and what perhaps should not change. And another on the long term; the data driven, truly zero carbon hospital of the future, if it even is a hospital in the terms we understand today? Over coming weeks, we will reflect on these broad areas independently and identify more detailed agendas and potential invited speakers.
We also agreed to leave wriggle room beyond the next six months to address the most relevant topics as they become apparent. The only thing that is certain right now is the degree of uncertainty which we are facing over the coming year.
NLA EXPERT PANEL ON HEALTHCARE
Chair Mark Rowe, Principal, Penoyre & Prasad
Benedict Zucchi, Principal, BDP
Charlotte Ruben, Partner, White Arkitekter
Edith Blennerhassett, Director, Arup
Jane Ho, Principal and Director of Health, HKS
Jonathan Martin, Director of Inward Investment, LB Waltham Forest
Justin Harris, Global Healthcare Deputy Lead, IBI Group
Simon Hodson, Head of Land and Development, JLL
Sara Grohmann, Partner, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios