One of the exhibitions at this year’s Venice Biennale serves as a stark reminder that the Global Pandemic has forever altered our world. This includes the medical profession.

Titled “Hospital of the Future”, OMA’s Reinier De Graaf has been invited to exhibit at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of the 2021 La Biennale di Venezia with his thought-provoking Future of Hospitals and the Medical Field.

Importantly, De Graaf’s installation explores how after years of medical and technological advancements, the global pandemic was able to shock medical progress, kill the hospital as we know it and envision a new form of medical architecture.

Life altering changes

Globally, the medical profession has been focused for some time on increasing life expectancy, and ensuring constant good health for everyone, even in old age.
Improvements in sanitation, nutrition and medicine have made it possible for people to live long beyond the age of 70, convincing some that the human race no longer needs to prepare for epidemics. However, the advent of COVID-19 is a stark reminder that more needs to be done as the same group of people they were trying to keep alive were the ones that fell victim. “The chronic suddenly became acute,” says De Graaf.

Hospital of the future

For the exhibition, the team of architects and designers reimagined hospitals based on their observations since the end of 2019. As seen in the installation, the hospital of the future is a place:
• One will never go to, one that will act remotely and treat each patient individually.
• That will be self-sufficient, similar to how greenhouses produce their own crops.
• The newly imagined spaces will allow automated machinery to handle routine tasks instead of staff, leaving precision work in the hands of devices.

De Graaf says, “The hospital of the future will be in constant flux, like a theatre, transforming or adapting its space to the event. If organs can be 3D printed, could the hospital be 3D printed? Using its waste as resource, could it rebuild itself perpetually? If we revive old remedies for common afflictions, could we grow just what the doctor prescribes?”

The future of AI and robots has become a reality in many industries, and it now seems that soon we will be entering a future where compassion and care – the human touch so to speak – will not necessarily be a part of healthcare.

• Partner in Charge: Reinier de Graaf
• Concept: Hans Larsson, Alex Retegan
• Film: Adam Kouki, Magdalena Narkiewicz, Max ten Oever, Camille Filbien
• Exhibition design: Benedetta Gatti, Sofia Hosszufalussy, Elisa Versari
• Research: Yeliz Abdurahman, Anton Anikeev, Matthew Bovingdon-Downe, Serah Calitz, Niccolo’ Cesaris, Nuria Ribas Costa, Helena Gomes, Claire Jansen, Arnaud Latran, Lucas Piquemal, Anahita Tabrizi, Alex Tintea, Jonas Trittman, Santiago Palacio Villa, Yushang Zhang, Giada Zuan

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Images: © DSL Studio – Courtesy of OMA

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