Technology Innovation and medicine concept. Doctor and medical network connection with modern virtual screen interface in hand on hospital background

The collaboration central to this project illustrates the innovation that can arise from bringing disparate disciplines and academic / non-academic partners together to generate holistic, transdisciplinary, forward-thinking propositions addressing a range of contemporary and emerging challenges, notably here related to health and infrastructure. Generated through this collaboration was an entry to the Wolfson Economics Prize 2020, which gained recognition as part of the long list of the competition.

Central to the team’s approach was an emphasis upon:

  • Economic growth through the (re)design and (re)structuring of health care infrastructure (both physical and programmatic). 
  • That economic growth will be afforded to not only health care institutions, but also co-joined social agendas that will benefit from regeneration of existing hospitals and the dispersal of health care in community-based centres. 
  • That this regeneration will act as a catalyst for social change through the dispersion of healthcare and co-joined social programs across communities.  

Further underpinning the team’s approach was an alternative perspective afforded through science fiction narratives. Building off interrogations of science fiction that highlight its capacity to envision both viable futures and reflections upon the now, the team’s narrative of future health care constructed vignettes not only of future health care but also future life. This approach recognised the need for a holistic, co-joined approach to health and social well-being.

Critical to the co-authoring of these narratives was its grounding in existing relationships between different disciplines with the University (i.e., Architecture, the Humanities, and the Plymouth Institute for Health and Care) and external non-academic partners (NHS Foundation Trust).  

The success of this project as a longlisted entry was enabled by the production of a professional standard document with accessible and eye-catching graphic format and imagery enabling the submission to have prominence amongst multiple entries.

The project represents: 

  • A viable deliverable: The project demonstrates students are capable of producing professional quality work.
  • Value to students: the participating students would gain valuable experience contributing to an enterprise/research-related project.
  • Teamwork: what is possible through collegiate working between students and staff with experience in both academic and professional practice, of managing teams and working collaboratively.
  • Growth potential: The project has growth potential for future collaborative research and is an extension of already existing multi-disciplinary research. 
  • Raising of reputation and profile: producing a distinctive piece of work has enabled the University / participating team opportunity to help enhance the profile and reputation of the University. 

I think the danger in mentioning the future, and with it sci-fi - even only 30 years forward - is that others think you are talking about the spectacular. I think that actually life remains the same - while my grandmother was born at a time when flight did not exist, and lived past man landing on the moon, she and my grandfather dealt with the same things my wife and I do: our are kids healthy? What are they going to grow up to be? How do we balance our household budget? Just everyday things. The context may frame things a bit different, but it is still about how we deal with those everyday things. That is what we were trying to achieve here; i.e., how healthcare in the future might help to reframe things.

Professor Robert Brown, Architecture