In 2021, Ab Rogers Design studio assembled a group of diverse minds – including doctors, nurses, patients, artists, architects, engineers, landscape designers and economists – to tackle the question posed by the Wolfson Economics Prize:
How would you design and plan new hospitals to radically improve patient experiences, clinical outcomes, staff wellbeing, and integration with wider health and social care?
The studio won the prize with their proposal for a Living Systems Health Centre dedicated to health creation and putting the human at the heart of the hospital experience. This vision hinges on the idea of the building becoming an active part of the healing process, facilitating nurturing interactions, anticipating the needs of its occupants, and supporting them at their most vulnerable. In this way, the building becomes a kind of ‘third carer’ alongside a patient’s medical team and their family and friends.
Since winning the prize, we have begun the work of establishing this research unit, which we have named the DRU+ after the Design Research Unit (DRU) of post-war Britain. The first modern design consultancy in the country, the DRU worked with architects and designers as well as artists, scientists, and writers to re-design public utility services, creating highly effective (and often iconic) design that was for everyone.
Inspired by the DRU’s socially progressive ambitions and founded in the spirit of post-Pandemic reconstruction – in the same way that DRU was founded in the spirit of post-WWII reconstruction – the DRU+ will combine medical knowledge, scientific rigour, and biocentric design innovation (addressing human needs within planetary limits) to deliver holistic solutions that support the science of prevention and treatment as well as the art of care. The unit will be informed by diverse, cross-sector learning and experience, reflecting the value of collective intelligence. Through transdisciplinary research, empirical testing, and real-world application, we will create reimagined healthcare spaces that give users greater agency while enhancing welfare and improving their quality of life.
Championing health creation through effective design, the DRU+ will be launched in late 2022 as the first major step towards our envisaged healthcare centre of the future. Meanwhile this website will operate as a meeting point, informing of DRU+’s activities, and assembling a freely accessible bank of research and related materials over time.
For more information, or to ask questions:
info@dru-plus.org
‘The Design Research Unit was firmly convinced that designers had an obligation to use their skills in a socially conscious way. […] The DRU+’s vision is a consultancy that can use its creative skills to work with professionals and experts to explore new ways of doing things. It’s the beginning of an important and optimistic reminder of what design can do.’
– Deyan Sudjic
‘The work of the DRU+ will forge an interrelationship between design and science so that the rigour of one can underpin the creativity of the other and together generate sensitive, responsive, and efficient spaces of care.’
– Ab Rogers
News
26.09.22
RIBA + VitrA Talk: The Third Carer: A vision for a new type of hospital
04.07.22
Publication of DRU+ book The Third Carer
28.05.22
‘Ab Rogers reimagines healthcare architecture with The Third Carer concept’ in Wallpaper*