For over a decade, Foster + Partners has been developing an architecture of care, which re-casts the hospital as a humane and civilised place. The Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced the need for flexible and comfortable healthcare buildings, which restore the instinctive human/nature connection. Studies have proven the benefits of embracing natural elements in our built environment; regular connections with nature can bring down anxiety levels, lower blood pressure and reduce stress hormones.

Sulis Hospital Bath is a quietly revolutionary building which incorporates biophilic design to enhance wellbeing and improve recovery times for patients. The hospital is set in the picturesque Somerset countryside, on the outskirts of Peasedown St John village.

Originally commissioned by Circle Health Group in 2009, as part of a privately funded initiative, the hospital has been delivering a holistic approach to healthcare for over 12 years. In 2021, it was bought by the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust and renamed Sulis Hospital Bath. This acquisition has grown the hospital’s services, increasing capacity at the facility for both NHS and private patients.

The hospital environment is bright and uplifting, with a central double-height entrance atrium, featuring a reception area and public café. The space is flooded with natural light through circular skylights and windows. The café is a destination for local people, who spend time relaxing and socialising in this calming communal area.

Recovery spaces on the lower level are glazed, as are the operating theatres, and all look out across the green landscape. Balconies on the upper floor are oriented to benefit from views across the countryside. Sympathetic landscaping further emphasises the therapeutic natural environment - an overall approach very different from more familiar, institutional hospital surroundings.

The inherently flexible design has allowed the hospital to meet changing needs and requirements. During the Covid-19 pandemic the hospital’s internal spaces were reconfigured to shield patients underoing chemotherapy. Covid safe pathways through the building also helped to reduce the spread of infection.

With a focus on patient experience and comfort, Sulis Hospital Bath provides a blueprint for other hospitals and has informed many of the practice’s global healthcare projects, such as the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, Maggie’s Manchester, Cleveland Clinic and the Pavilion for the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Most recently, Foster + Partners has been selected to design the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s New Cancer Care Pavilion in Manhattan. The practice is working closely with MSK and CannonDesign to create a pioneering medical facility that will be at the forefront of innovation and patient care.

Sulis Hospital Bath: celebrating twelve years of new thinking in health

Sulis Hospital Bath: celebrating twelve years of new thinking in health

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