MIPIM Awards: Challenging the way medical institutions look

The internationally acknowledged MIPIM Awards have in recent years started celebrating outstanding healthcare design. The award is an acknowledgement of the role architecture plays in healing and treatment of illnesses.

Read more in this interview with the MIPIM jury member Sergey Kuznetsov, Chief Architect of Moscow.

Though it has been a few years, since the Danish psychiatric hospital, GAPS, won the MIPIM Award in 2017 in the category Best Healthcare Development, jury member Sergey Kuznetsov remembers it well.

– It has beautiful design and eco-friendly materials. Wood is a wonderful material in general. And the project exploits the adjacent territory in order to provide an opportunity for recovery not only through being in the clinic, but also taking advantage of the environment. There are many courtyards and sports grounds – I believe that this is the medicine of the future, which sets a person in a positive mood to a greater extent than indoors treatment, says Sergey Kuznetsov.

In his everyday life he is in charge of Moscow’s urban planning as the city’s Chief Architect since 2012.

Architecture as helper in healing

In 2020, the Swedish Biomedicum-project in Stockholm won the MIPIM award in the “Best Healthcare Development”, and generally Sergey Kuznetsov and his fellow MIPIM jury members are looking for architecture’s “healing potential” when evaluating submissions for Best Healthcare Development:

– I am quite convinced that the possibility of a person's healing lies originally in the human body. Therefore, I support the way, modern medical institutions can encourage a person to recover on their own - through their design, interiors, integration into the environment and opportunities for maximum psychological comfort. Patients in such well-designed institutions forget that they are sick and being treated. Instead, the design gives them the feeling that they live part of their life in a certain place, that motivates them to recover. These are the features and the approach that we are looking for in the award, says Sergey Kuznetsov.

Away from excessive “medicalness”

And there are more and more projects to choose from when looking for healthcare developments with “healing architecture”.

– We can see in modern architecture increasing attempts to challenge the way medical institutions look and are designed. The architects try to destroy the expectation that a medical institution must look a certain way, because in the past the mere appearance of hospitals can send people into a painful state. This is obviously a problem for institutions aimed to cure people’s illnesses, and therefore I welcome the trend to move away from this fixed concept. To amaze patients, visitors and medical professionals with a fresh design and get away from the feeling of excessive medicalness, says Sergey Kuznetsov.

During the 2020 pandemic the role of medical institutions have been in the public spotlight, but Sergey Kuznetsov does not anticipate major permanent design changes to hospitals as a result of Covid19.

– We have seen a record number of temporary solutions. If we take Moscow as an example, we can see that in such situations you can quickly mobilize a lot of premises. This includes both the construction of new healthcare institutions and the conversion of trade, sports, and exhibition centers into premises for medical needs. But these adaptations are temporary in nature and will not alter the overall healthcare design trends, says Sergey Kuznetsov.

FACTS: About Sergey Kuznetsov

  • One of the youngest leaders in the government of Moscow.
  • At the age of 35, he took up the post of Chief Architect of the capital, Moscow.
  • Heads Skolkovo City Planning Council and Moscow Architectural Council.
  • He is the curator of the Creative Environment and Urban Studies section at the St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum.
  • He represented Russia four times at the Venice Architecture Biennale.
  • From 2006 to 2012 he was Managing Partner of the SPEECH Tchoban & Kuznetsov Architectural Association in Moscow.
  • As the Chief Architect of the capital, he led a team of authors working on the construction of Zaryadye park and concert hall; reconstruction of Luzhniki stadium for the 2018 FIFA World Cup; and reconstruction of Palace of Rhythmic Gymnastics Irina Viner-Usmanova.
  • Read more at https://skuznetsov.art/eng