PriestmanGoode, a London design house, has worked on everything from cell phones to speakers to first-class cabins for Swiss Airlines. But Britain's Design Council, hoping to see what serious design thinking might produce, asked them to work on something completely different: Hospital Wards.
PG has just released their proposal today, in a "healthcare manifesto." In it, they argue that the central problems facing hospital design happen to have already been solved in the design of first-class cabins for airlines.
Think about it: Nurses need to be able to visit patients easily and efficiently. So do airline stewards. Hospitals, meanwhile, need to maximize their square footage utilization, while giving patients privacy and--ideally--a comfortable, homey environment. Which actually happens to be exactly what airlines do, in their first-class cabin.
PG points out that hospitals usually attempt to solve their design requirements with architecture, which is both expensive and hard to adapt when technology changes. By contrast, they propose pre-fab, lie-flat beds and room dividers, similar to what they've designed before. These would be far cheaper to manufacture, more flexible, and far more space efficient. Moreover, the arrangement would allow nurses to easily monitor dozens of patients, while offering each one privacy. Of course, this probably wouldn't be a replacement for private rooms--but rather the grim recovery wards familiar to anyone who's spent any amount of time in a hospital.