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Palliative Sanatorium: A place of retreat and solace for stage-four metastatic cancer patients

Part 1 Project 2014
Matthew Ryall
University of the West of England Bristol UK
There are 2100 deaths per year in Bath, 609 of which require end-of-life palliative care in a specialised healthcare setting. Residents of Bath have access to only one public adult end-of-life care facility, located 8 miles from the city centre. This facility supplies the greater population of the local planning authority, Bath and North East Somerset, with only 300 spaces per year. The proposal for a Palliative Sanatorium meets the demand for end-of-life care, completing the city’s processional infrastructure and fulfilling a noble narrative for dying.

Through detailed research into both patient and programme the architecture of the Palliative Sanatorium transgresses the typical typological relationship between patient and medical processes, arriving at a non-institutional typology with a primary concern for quality of patient experience. To control the duality, between the medical and experiential, the building took form in layers. Shifting the medical to a subservient role, the patient realm takes precedence. Within this patient realm a healing experiential journey is conceived, where the rhythmic compartmentalisation of palliative complementary therapies converge with the healing potential of atmospheric space. This experiential journey does not however become a linear stagistic diagram of spaces, but takes on an organic arrangement, responding to contextual qualities. The complementary therapies, collectively fulfilling a biopsychosocial-spiritual model of healing, are broken down into programmatic experiential criteria. With this, the architectural spaces anthropomorphically materialise in scale and proportion merging with the play of light, materials, textures and olfactory stimulation.

Therefore, the experiential journey towards healing and feeling whole unfolds in a sensitive composition; from warm sumptuous walnut retreat-like spaces the cleansing qualities of aquatherapy invite patients to bathe in a shallow ankle-pool. Encouraged by the depth of ash stonewalls, almost measureable on the palate through the warm pool-vapour, the patient explores. Intrigued by the sensual acoustics of water, the patient moves on where assisted bathing transcends tranquillity. In final spaces, light dances through ochre leaves taking advantage of the immuno-healing potential of Biophilic design. After traversing a shadowed compressive space, body posture and breathing open in an anthropomorphic response to scale, where towering light overwhelms in a non-denominative spiritual phenomena.

Matthew Ryall

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2014
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