Breaking Through 2022 Winner

Now in its third installment, Healthcare Design’s Breaking Through is a conceptual design competition that encourages industry members to forget the traditional rules and restrictions of healthcare design to answer the challenges anticipated for the future of healthcare delivery. Four finalists made it to the finale that took place at the 2022 HCD Conference + Expo in San Antonio and presented their concepts to the audience during a keynote session.

Concept: Bionica
Team: HDR
On-stage representatives: Yunnan Allen, senior project architect; Brian Schaller, project designer; Adeline Morin, senior project designer

The premise: Healthcare today is rife with challenges including fixed resources, a high carbon footprint, secondary infections, stressful wayfinding, and an environment that often isn’t healing.

Recognizing this, Bionica works to avoid a narrow approach that solves a single healthcare delivery challenge by instead thinking more broadly and using advancements in modularity and mobility to solve many challenges.

It simultaneously addresses another key issue: If patients of the future were to design their own hospitals, they’d ask for healthcare services to be delivered to them.

The concept: Bionica consists of depositories of pods that connect services to patients. A patient’s healing journey begins and ends at home, with patient pods where care takes place and designed to be peaceful and infused with nature.

At the hospital, mobile service modules deliver care to patients and allow resources to be utilized with higher efficiency, while repair and replacements of pods can occur as needed on individual units without impacting overall operations. The same system can be used within large urban centers and small neighborhoods alike, with services like labor and delivery able to be safely delivered at a patient’s home.

Within the hospital environment, specifically, automated robotics move pods of services in an open structural frame to bring care directly to patients. This requires little lighting and no space conditioning, which reduces overall energy requirements and resource demand.

The details: The mobile patient pods are equipped with a sound and vibration isolation ring to ensure the comfort of the patient. The pod attaches to the structural frame by a mobility ring and docks with the stationary patient pod.

Inside the structural frame, those stationary units connect with various service and other support pods that enable caregivers to treat the patient upon arrival. The entire structure is enveloped in nature at the healing zone, with gardens at each level adjacent to docking stations as well as medicinal gardens intermittently positioned next to patient pods.

The accordion-grid structure can grow as needed and allows different pods to navigate to locations, as well.

The concept strives to heal both people and the environment, too. For example, healing gardens act as urban conditioners to reduce urban heat gain, while a photovoltaic panel system generates power. The medicinal gardens purify the air, while rainwater is harvested for greywater or emergency use.

Meanwhile, the air filtration system uses soil and medicinal plants to clean and condition the air, too. Bionica’s inherent flexibility and adaptability also allows the system to fit anywhere and at all scales.

For more on Healthcare Design’s Breaking Through, see the November 2022 issue.