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Arts & Culture

Book Review: Evidence-based design for multiple building types
Evidence-based Design for Multiple Building Types starts out by making a clear statement of its bias and point of view, writes Jacqueline Vischer.

Architects are losing market share to a plethora of other specialists in the building industry, particularly to professionals who have a better understanding of users’ needs and client requirements. A demonstrated competence in acquiring and using scientific evidence to apply to design decisions is a way to rectify this imbalance and have better luck winning projects from competitors.
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Book Review: Investing in Hospitals of the Future

Although this book has its focus mainly on Europe, the issues discussed within it have worldwide applications, and it is particularly relevant for health economic planners in emerging economies who wish to avoid some of the mistakes made by developed countries. Bite-sized chapters with clear headings and well-argued points make what is a very meaty tome, with lots of serious data, a very enjoyable and satisfying read.
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Poems in the Waiting Room: Wind Farm
First published in the Autumn 2003 issue of Poems in the Waiting Room, Wind Farm was the cover poem for Poetry in Stitches, a joint project with the National Needlework Archive. "This gently teasing poem," explains editor, Isobel Montgomery Campbell, "brings a smile, and to me seems like a metaphor for angels!"
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Conference review: National Patient Environments and the Arts 2009

The contribution of the arts to creating a healing environment shone out at the UK’s recent National Patient Environment and the Arts conference, as Veronica Simpson reports


Great art puts you in touch with your humanity – the wordless response it evokes in our hearts and minds brings us to a point of stillness and empathy. Where better to place it than in the dehumanising environment of hospitals and healthcare institutions?
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Book Review: Eco Skyscrapers
Ken Yeang acknowledges early in his introduction that the title may be, and probably is, an oxymoron.

It was wise to disarm us as early as possible and then beguile us with his trademark vision of green skyscrapers which reassert the beauty of living high above the ground.
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Exhibition Review: Secession to sanity

While Sigmund Freud developed his theories of psychoanalysis, a group of Viennese artists, designers and architects developed a fresh, outward-looking approach to the design of mental health institutions, highlighted in a new book and exhibition. Colin Martin reports.


Fin-de-sie`cle Vienna was the urban crucible in which 20th-century modernism was forged in visual arts, literature, music, philosophy – and in psychiatry. Historian Edward Timms has published Venn diagrams showing how overlapping memberships of Viennese intellectual and cultural circles facilitated the development of modernist ideas and debate within and across professional disciplines.
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Book Review: I’m Still Here. A breakthrough approach to understanding someone living with Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s. Now there’s a diagnosis which gets your attention, whether it’s personal or for a loved one. It’s usually thought of as a sentence to a decade or more of forgetting. I cannot imagine a more devastating diagnosis, one which will affect millions worldwide this year.

John Zeisel’s new book I’m Still Here, based on his groundbreaking work at Hearthstone Alzheimer Care, offers hope. No, more than that, it presents a completely different way of perceiving, understanding, coping and caring. It teaches the possibilities of a positive relationship between the afflicted and the caregiver based on memories, learning, stories and visits.
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Book Review: Biophilic Design. The Theory, Science and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life

This well conceived and edited book is published at a time that requires a fundamental generational rethink about the impact of buildings, both in terms of their environmental performance and their impact on human health and wellbeing, comments Phil Astley.

Paradigms are shifting, with a greater focus on the value of health and environmental capital as opposed to financial wealth, calling into question current design and investment decisions, at both a micro and macro level.
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Exhibition Review: Restoration of the Living Idea

So many sins have been committed in the name of Le Corbusier, it is hard to separate the man from his reputation. Veronica Simpson visits a major exhibition exploring the enduring legacy of the iconic architect, writer and artist.

While the carcasses of countless sink estates – often shoddily assembled imitations of this mass-housing blueprint – still haunt our urban landscapes, the negative impact of this image, only one of Le Corbusier’s big ideas, can obscure us to the brilliance of the others.
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Book Review: A Visual Reference for Evidence-Based Design
This thoughtful and comprehensive book is a valuable compendium of research results that bear on the design of the built environment for healthcare delivery, says Jacqueline C Vischer.

The book is lavishly illustrated with photographs of various kinds of hospital environment that have been inspired by, and have applied, the new knowledge emerging from relevant research.
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Exhibition Review: Emotional response
Stepping outside the parameters of ‘normal’ architecture can be good for your health, decides Veronica Simpson after a visit to the Hayward Gallery’s “Psycho Buildings” exhibition in London.

How do buildings make you feel? In an ideal world, every architect should be forced to imagine, visualise and empathise with the occupants of any building they design to ensure that, in every possible, practical way, they do not wittingly create spaces that dull or disappoint the senses. Even aside from the practicalities, there are usually too many trust managers, town planners, accountants, unit managers, and clients’ aesthetic sensibilities to negotiate – to the point where such a goal may end up appearing ludicrously indulgent.
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Book Review: Changing Hospital Architecture
There are plenty of thin-lipped critics who chastise architects for being unable to produce hospital designs as fashionably smart as today's offices and airports, but who fail to realise that the sheer complexity of the problem and extent of political interference has made good design hard to attain. John Wells-Thorpe writes.

The arrival of Changing Hospital Architecture, with its presumed emphasis on changing for the better, is timely. It contains individual essays from a wide variety of contributors, all of whom are alive to the difficulty of making progress in the face of the political opportunism and short-term thinking, which have plagued the situation for so long.
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Book Review: Sustainable Healthcare Architecture
Sustainability and healthcare architecture are two big subjects, each including many component topics that are themselves highly complex, writes Peter Scher.

For example, sustainability includes stewardship of resources – water, energy, materials, local and planetary ecology – while healthcare architecture takes in the design process, procurement and construction, ventilation, daylight, lifecycle design, ‘green’ legislation and infection control. This book appears to cover them all – or certainly it tries to – but I confess I did not have the stamina to read it from cover to cover taking in every page.
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