Senses and Modern Health/care Environments: Exploring interdisciplinary and international opportunities

Project Details


Funded by a Wellcome Trust small grant (218188/Z/19/Z)

Design is a pressing issue in healthcare. In the face of growing critiques of current healthcare and care environments, examples of successful healthcare design from history can provide inspiration for change. Even more opportunities emerge if we consider historical examples of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ design in terms of how hospitals felt rather than only how they looked. What about the smells, sounds, foods, temperatures, air flow, and furniture in places such as hospitals, hospices, care homes, and GP surgeries? What role have they played in the making of ‘therapeutic’ spaces, or in contributing to poor design? This project will use the senses as a new way of approaching the history of health/care environments, for the benefit of historians, designers and users (including workers, visitors, and patients). It will develop international and interdisciplinary networks, which will lay the foundations for ways to improve healthcare spaces for all.

It will explore opportunities for research and funding in the sensory history of healthcare environments. It has two main aims, with associated activities to achieve these running over a two-year period (one workshop, one large conference, and three project ‘retreats’). Firstly, it will develop methodologies for an ambitious, collaborative, interdisciplinary publication on senses in the modern British hospital for the 75th anniversary of the NHS. Secondly, it will expand a small existing group of UK-based scholars working on (or near) the subject of health/care senses to become (i) more international; and (ii) more collaborative with healthcare practitioners, designers and architects. Ultimately, the project will initiate and deepen interdisciplinary and international networks, with the ultimate goal of collaborative funding applications and publications. The project will work towards improving healthcare environments for all those who use them, as well as developing new approaches for scholars of medical humanities and sensory history.
Effective start/end date26/08/1925/08/22


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