Healthy Places: Focus on Healthcare

When you think about health and health care, what do you see? It’s a more complicated question than it may seem on the surface, and the image that gets conjured up is different for everyone. Some of you may think of hospitals and pharmacies, or breathing easy as you take a stroll through your local park. Others might picture a safe and welcoming community, with neighbours who know one another. Or, perhaps, you see it all.

When it comes to those physical buildings, does how they are built matter to our health?  Do current best practices take into consideration the health implications of the very design of a building that addresses illness and wellness?

As part of our work with the Active Neighbourhoods Canada project, we work closely with the community of  Bridgeland-Riverside. So, when Alberta Health Services announced their plan to build a complex care facility there, we wanted to know more.

At the end of March we hosted a symposium at the city hall Innovation Lab: “Healthy Places: Focus on Healthcare” to explore the following questions: how can health campuses contribute to livable and healthy streetscapes? What are the precedents that demonstrate the ability of health campuses to not only care for their clients, but also promote health by their very design? Professionals from the Alberta Ministry of Health, architects, designers, and city officials watched as Juliana Morar, a local landscape architect, presented examples of health campus precedents. These precedents, some international and some local (think Sheldon Chumir) painted a picture of the possibilities. You can see from the photos below that these health campuses are well integrated, fitting snugly into their neighbourhoods and even adding to walkability and vibrancy.

Health is multi-faceted, and as such, we would expect buildings that support and address health to be just as comprehensive. 

Health is multi-faceted, and as such, we would expect buildings that support and address health to be just as comprehensive. Yet, these precedents are a change from current practices. Their formation requires collaboration across sectors – think urban planners, architects, health professionals, and public health experts.

The symposium revealed that the desire for greater multi-sectoral collaboration exists. There was broad agreement that all sectors, not merely health or infrastructure, should be working towards healthy places.

Reflecting on the conversations and collaboration that took place, we are left with two questions. How do we work together across such varied jurisdictions and professions to build the healthy places we want? How do we institutionalize existing health campus design best practice?

Moving forward, our work will involve further exploration of these questions and ongoing efforts to champion cross-sectoral collaboration.

Thank you to everyone who was a part of the symposium. We deeply value your time and contribution to this important discussion.


Click here to watch Ward 9 Councillor, Gian Carlo Carra, discuss the proposed Bridgeland Complex Care Center

Let us know what you think about how health campuses could be built.

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Matt KnapikANC, Acadia, HTF