Finding a Respite: Architects discover visionary solutions for the terminally ill.

The competition was to design a hospice care facility for terminally ill children.

Death…as morbid as a concept it is, is inevitable. For people with terminal illnesses and no cure in sight, it is a concept that they are in denial of, and the ones that have accepted it, have no place to take refuge from the constant reminder of it.

There are places called hospices, that are built to deliver this type of healthcare. They focus on the well-being and pain alleviation of such patients, as possible, during their final days. It fulfills the patient’s physical, mental and emotional needs. Studies suggest that in the supportive environment of a hospice, patients are likely to live longer than conventional terminal patients. When any cure is no longer effective in palliative care, terminally ill patients are shifted to a hospice, where only relieving the symptoms is possible. Although not a widespread idea, it is found that many patients choose to live this way, overgoing for treatments that may or may not offer a slim chance of survival, but come with definite pain. 

How can the spatial design of a hospice deliver the kind of environment and support that the patients need?

Among terminally ill patients, a portion of them are children, and they are oblivious to death until they reach a certain age. Tending to their physical needs is easier than talking to them about death. Most parents may choose not to talk to them about their illness, to make the situation easy for them, but children tend to come to this realization as their body changes and they receive treatments, care, and sympathy from others.

‘Respites’ an architecture competition launched by UNI invited sensitive design ideas for hospices for children. The competition encouraged architects and designers to put their skills and sensibilities to use, by bringing forward design solutions to improve the physical and emotional well-being of terminally ill children by providing positive environments.

The aim of the challenge was to understand how design can be improved for better living of terminally ill children. Although the facilities and skilled staff of a hospice are what would create a soothing environment to an extent, the physical spaces that they are exposed to, during their stay in a hospice, can contribute to their well-being.

The jury for the competition consisted of esteemed designers, professionals, and academicians from around the world. The Lead Jurors for the competitions were as follows: 

Iman Ansari, Principal, AN.ONYMOUS, United States

Marta Nowak, Founding Principal, AN.ONYMOUS, United States

Some of the Best of competition projects are as follows:

Winning Project: Honeybee Hospice

By: Abila Xiao

Description: Children in the hospice have clear needs for social and group belonging, nature, and personal values, which are actually very similar to the behavioral patterns of bees. Therefore, this hospice care center uses the little bee as a cartoon image, hoping to encourage move-in children to spend their short and splendid time like lively little bees.

Jury Comments: Very nice concept and appropriate for the users- fun and playful. Nice presentation. The modular systems offer good clustering of spaces, although scalar variations could have provided more functional spaces for various programs.

Runner-Up: Hope hospice

By: Shadi Akbarian & Kimia Shirmohammadi

Description: a place for terminally ill children .where they are reborn in every moment. In the modern day, most individuals spend their lives in unbearable misery approaching their numerous unattainable goals. Even though advances in technology and medicine assisted mankind pretty well, they have prevented us from embracing true joys in life and superior goals of the universe as much.

Jury Comments: The project results with nice spaces. Intelligent and sensible approach with nice drawings. The sections could take some cues from the plans!

People’s Choice: “Lorem ipsum” HOSPICE

By: Regina Tan, Gracia Caroline & Clarissa Lius

Description: Our hospice invites its residents to write their own stories, to leave behind a living memory. Centralized around thematic gardens, each propagates a specific cluster of activities – encouraging the creation of memories.

Jury Comments: Interesting proposal that brings nature closer to the interior of the building. But could be more developed. The focus on landscape and gardens was carefully considered and planned. The building design and the presentation as a whole could have been better tied to that concept.

Editor’s Choice: OASIS

By: Sangeetha Palangat Othayoth & Sindhu Sriram

Description: A refuge amidst the storm. A pause from the terrors of life. Oasis is that sanctuary in the desert where the soul is replenished. This proposal aims at celebrating life while acknowledging the inevitable. An ode to the celebration of life no matter how little it may be.

Jury Comment: Very convoluted and unresolved building but it results in new interesting places that would be kids appropriate. Complex and ambitious concept and form that could use more developed drawings and representations.

Editor’s Choice: Sensitive house for the young

By: Nicolas Monje

Description: The concept of the project was born from the need to generate visuals and connections to all sides of the lot and create a playful connection vertically. Similarly, the design is made from a modular grid of 5 meters by 5 meters which when becoming architecture can be molded to make spaces that users of the project can enjoy, inhabit live different sensory and visual experiences, the above generates a very colorful hospice on its facade to give life to the moment to see it from the context. 

Jury Comment: the interiors we interesting and design with children in mind. Well-developed details but not as well-developed overall concept and spaces.

Editor’s Choice: IKIGAI

By: Tecolote Collective, Pochun LIao, Yannick OLIVEIRA & Gaurab Das Mahapatra

Description: Hospice design where the main objective is not to create a simply functional project but to go beyond the material and create spaces that serve the purpose of healing a kid facing death: making a child overcome this hardship in a community of similar individuals and loved ones, never alone.

Jury Comment: elaborate design with some interesting spaces but could push to be more radical. A thoughtful, thorough, and mature proposal that could have used a bit more representational consistency.

Editor’s Choice: Home-spice

By: Jessy Yau

Description: In our hospice design we try to create a temporary home, it is in truth a home, that one is able to find company from both man and nature. Our design is a place of final goodbye for the families, and of final destination for children patients. Even though the ending is inevitable and not a desire, one still can also embrace the beauty of life.

Jury Comment: Well developed and drawn project but the ideas are a bit missing. While the hexagonal system offers a lot of opportunities to break from the conventional building typologies, those opportunities are not taken here.

Editor’s Choice: HOUSE OF ANGELS

By: Shrief Adel, Sohila Mohamed & Mazen Ayman

Description: Our hospice provides shelter to terminally ill patients who are beyond the scope of treatment mostly those who have exhausted all their resources during the treatment phase and now do not have enough to support themselves. It is also about those who find refuse in sharing their emotions and feelings with people who have gone through a similar journey.

Jury Comment: Very traditional proposal with a strong division between the building and outside. Nice drawings and diagrams but more are desired from the concept and the forms and spaces that emerge from that.

Editor’s Choice: Unleashed Sacramento Hospice

By: Osama Abosaadia & Alaa Wael

Description: “Together to unleash the short life in our community” The purpose of that design of the project is to create an outstanding environment for the children to help them get hope, which will help get superior health and facilitate a place for them and their relatives to spend their last time together in a dignifying and comfortable manner.

Jury Comment: Despite being formally resolved the project seems like a residential project and doesn’t really address its users- kids. Nice drawings and illustrations but the stronger concept could have better informed the massing and sectional relationships.

Editor’s Choice: Part of The Community

By: Khaled Fakhry & Ahmed Aboagwa

Description: Making The Children Being Not Isolated Behind The Walls. The hospice is not a death house, not a hospital, not a depressing place to work, its more than a building, its a service for life. The main of the project is to ensure hospice sustainability which can not be achieved without eliminating the key issues faced by the majority of hospices nowadays such as the feelings of isolation, lack of funding and support, poor design.

Jury Comment: The project proposes a very connectional solution even though the project brief has an interesting premise. Nice drawings and diagrams but no description of concept or idea.

Editor’s Choice: Alive Hospice

By: Hilda Ezzat & Mariam Adly

Description: Children need to feel belonging by being safe and loved. we used simple shapes like home as The child realized simple shapes, not complex ones. The interaction with nature gives a good feeling. Playful Space Arrangement Stimulating Kids to Explore With a view to inspiring children’s imagination and creativity. all these make them feel alive again.

Jury Comment: This is a good project that has a very clear intent and execution. Thoughtfully, carefully, and beautifully executed.

Checkout all the entries here.

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