We are delighted to have been Highly Commended by the judges for the prestigious Wolfson Economics Prize 2021 – Planning and Designing the Hospital of the Future. As a collective of 50 built environment experts and creatives, we regularly collaborate with organisations outside of our virtual team. For the Wolfson Prize, we joined forces with JLL, Siemens, Therme Group, DAR and Perkins & Will resulting in an exceptional mosaic of experiences and insights. As well as creative workshops, our social scientists interviewed team members, hospital staff and patients to deepen our understanding of the issues.

As a team, we delight in making beautiful, efficient, and human-centric places. We see the hospital as a micro and a macro place, with a myriad of complexities which are site-specific, all working within an overarching framework. By mindfully listening to the next generation, whilst reflecting on the established way of doing things, we may seize a perfect moment in history to create hospitals that are fit for the future economically, environmentally, and socially.

We envisage hospitals not just embedded in the community but being the community. A hybrid and agile network able to seamlessly integrate the physical and virtual worlds of wellness. We formed six guiding principles to underpin this vision with hospitals becoming People-Centric; Adaptable; Sustainable; Technologically Smart; Value for Money; Civic and Community Beacons.

During the past 18-months the world has lived through a global pandemic, climate change activism, major political shifts and a surge in computer-mediated and technological solutions. It has brought about the biggest shift in home-work life in centuries and it is a unique time of accelerated reimagination. Before fully seizing the liberation that technology offers, enabling a dignified physical-virtual hybridised service, the hospital needs to redefine what physical presence a healthcare institution has in the city. If we disaggregate the hospital and metaphorically ‘take the roof off’, we can disentangle ourselves from the intensity of the pandemic memory and look to a future beyond critical care.

Our submission was the combined work of 34 specialists with expertise ranging from semiotics to circadian lighting and cultural placemaking to modern methods of construction. Our work involved many voices, so it became clear we should present it in the form of dialogue, interaction, and a visualised setting.

To explore the diversity and creativity of collective thinking, we wrote a play with four Acts called The Caring Collective. The characters, ranging from a child patient to a psychiatric nurse, are all real and were interviewed by our team. The play weaves together a mass of opinions, experiences, expertise, and creativity collected through interviews, conversations, design workshops and research.