Getting Hospitalized Should Be Like Flying First-Class

PriestmanGoode has a radical solution to how hospital wards should be designed.


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.

[Via Dezeen]

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  • MightyCasey

    @ferenstein: my issue is with the lack of soundproofing. Dunno how much time you've spent in hospitals, but there are plenty of things that go on in the typical ward that you don't want to see or hear, or be seen/heard while doing. Granted, the whooshing/beeping/humming of medical equipment can cover some of the auditory component, but the visual part? Divider walls would have to be at least 18" higher than in the rendering, which would cancel out the look-across-the-landscape goal stated for the nursing staff.

    Like I said, it's a start, but only that.

    Casey Quinlan
    Mighty Mouth
    Mighty Casey Media

  • Gregory Ferenstein

    @casey, how would you solve the privacy issue? Does anyone else think that this design precludes privacy?


  • MightyCasey

    It's a start, but I don't know that I'd like to talk to a doctor completely "open kimono", or submit to a literal open-kimono exam, without more privacy than is apparent in the rendering. And what about infection control, particularly airborne infection? That looks like a giant disease vector playground.

    It is, however, a start in the direction of re-thinking how hospitals deal with patients and space considerations that doesn't just strap something on to the current methodology...which is seriously deficient.

  • Nicolae Halmaghi

    There is no doubt that Design Thinking strategies of the highest level have been applied, No doubt we are going in the right direction. I have not enough inside to take issues with independent components within the eco-system of the experience, however, a few things are quite evident to me. The space is way too designed. (by imposing a minimal approach) It forces EVERYBODY to adjust to an aesthetic that is way too subjective. The design should be almost invisible, specially in situations where every single point of contact of the patient with its surrounding is, by nature, highly amplified.

    Philippe makes a great point; looks good, if one where to separate fruit and veggies within a grocery store, but feels impersonal for a setting that should ooze wellness and empathy.

    Nicolae Halmaghi

  • Philippe Schlesser

    Design is an amazing tool to be implemented in the healthcare business, and I have no doubt about its enormously positive impact for both patients and healthcare staff.

    Although flying first class might be nice in an airplane, I would suggest to use another approach to addressing first class healthcare.
    The shown concepts feels much more like an antisocial airport waiting room.
    The Human Factor and the quality of the health care provided by qualified medical staff seems to have been completely left out, both in the conceptualization as well as in the actual Health Manifesto.
    As passengers, we expect to be spoiled and served, and want to get to our destination on time.
    As patients, we are fragile, weak and need care and thoughtful acts by medical staff, family or friends.
    And a "Bloody Mary" has a whole different definition in a hospital...

    A few thoughts about the concept visualization:
    - How do you sit if there's no space under the tray?
    - We all like our little table next the bed to put things on for longer periods.
    - Magazines and other objects used by previous patients can spread viruses and microbes.
    - What about elbow room?
    - How does medical staff approach patients right side?
    - How would patients feel, if they'd need to remove clothes in this public space?
    - None of the patients seem to be able to profit from the gorgeous panoramic view outside.
    - Remember school camp, when all the kids were asleep, and even the girls were snoring upstairs? It was hard to fall asleep, wasn't it?
    - Where do I take a shower or go to the bathroom?
    - What if I peed in my bed? Do I feel humiliated and embarrassed?
    - ... the list goes on.

    Although the concept looks wonderful as a lifestyle product, you'd have constantly patients and staff walk past you.
    And as far as we have learned, we all heal faster when we are undisturbed, relaxed and happy.

    As a designer, I feel that this concept needs a deeper human centered approach.
    As a human being, I simply wouldn't (want to) heal in such an environment. And I've had my share of hospital visits…

    Philippe Schlesser

  • Eric Ansley

    If you live in the U.S. the cost of flying first class and going to the hospital are about the same. So, this idea sort of makes sense. PS - will there be a movie and snacks while we wait 4 hours to see the doctor?

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