William Alsop: 'That a patient is in a bed without a view is immaterial'

From the Bossom Lecture, delivered by the chairman of the Architecture Foundation, at the Royal Society of Arts, in London

You see the work of the people who don't have an idea or apply rules in hospitals, the PFI funded ones, because they come from a building background, which is very cost-sensitive - and there's nothing wrong with that. I mean, I have never found money, really, to be a problem, unless it's an absurdly stupid amount of money, but it's not in hospitals. These people apply what they call the wall-to-floor-ratio, so you want to enclose as much space as possible with as little wall as possible, because that, by definition, will save money.

The fact that you might, as a patient, be lying in bed without a view, seems to be immaterial, although a well-known piece of research that always gets quoted says that if you have a view - and actually the better the view the quicker this happens - is that on average, you will get out of bed 20 per cent more quickly.

So at the same time that the Government, and many others, are saying: "We need to get people through the hospital system as fast as possible," we are building buildings that don't do that. I think that that's very sad, and we can see how there are many things that more imaginative architects than many of those working could do. A lot of those, and this is nothing against American architects at all, but a lot of them are American - and the reason that they are American is because we didn't build any hospitals for ages and the only people with the relevant experience, because they had been building hospitals, happened to be American architects.

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