£250,000 prize competition seeks to ‘revolutionise hospital design'
A competition to win what the organisers say is the world’s second biggest cash economics prize is now formally open, seeking planning and design ideas that will ‘radically improve’ hospital care in the UK and around the world.
The 2021 Wolfson Economics Prize – reportedly second only to the Nobel Prize in monetary terms – is, the organisers say, ‘evidence of a new focus on the long-term improvement in hospital provision globally’. The £250,000 prize has been launched in partnership with London-based think tank, Policy Exchange, and calls for entrants to ‘design hospitals of the future’.
The Judging Panel – chaired by Lord Kakkar, Professor of Surgery at University College London, and a crossbench peer in the House of Lords (pictured), also includes Dr Brian Donley, CEO of Cleveland Clinic London, and Robert A. Stern, founding Partner of Robert AM Stern Architects, and former Dean of Yale School of Architecture. They are on the lookout for ‘designs and plans for new hospitals that will radically improve patient experiences, clinical outcomes, staff wellbeing, and integration with wider health and social care’. Entry is free, and welcomed from anywhere in the world, but the designs proposed must be deliverable within the NHS.
In polling, the Policy Exchange says it found that:
- Eighty per cent of the English public think building modern hospital facilities has ‘become more important, not less’, following the coronavirus pandemic.
- 8 in 10 (81%) picked developing 40 new hospitals in their top three UK government priorities for the post-COVID economy, ‘far ahead of the second most supported pledge’ – building 180,000 affordable homes over the next eight years (55%).
- Forty-one per cent describe their hospital as ‘the bedrock of my local community’.
- There is a preference for private rooms, natural light, and hospitals built in traditional architectural styles.
Rt Hon Professor Lord Kakkar, Chair of the 2021 Wolfson Economics Prize Judging Panel, said: “The last 12 months have plainly challenged healthcare systems around the world. At the same time, the health care and life science communities have proven their remarkable ability to innovate and adapt. Many of our healthcare challenges predate the COVID-19 pandemic, and will outlast it. Health systems are increasingly treating older, frailer patients with complex needs, but we have new technologies, diagnostics, and health data, that are dramatically improving the care they receive.
“The hospital will continue to play a critical role in providing this care. We are hoping to see visionary ideas – from questions around how wards are run, to the design of a whole hospital campus – which challenge the status quo, and are deliverable at pace and scale.”
Lord Wolfson of Apsley Guise, the Conservative peer and CEO of Next, who established the Prize in 2011, said: “All too many hospitals are now outdated. Their design, facilities, and technology, simply no longer provide the best clinical care. We now have a generational opportunity to improve the provision of healthcare. There are a host of brilliant ideas waiting to improve every aspect of the modern-day hospital – the aesthetics, internal logistics, communication, technology, workflow, hygiene systems, and more. We seek to establish a new benchmark for hospital design and style, drawing on innovation from around the world, to help create hospitals that work better for patients, their staff, and the communities they serve.”
The Wolfson Economics Prize has previously sought policy solutions on rethinking roadbuilding (2017), delivering more homes via Garden Cities (2014), and reforming currency unions (2012). The 2021 Prize question is: ‘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?’