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Healing by Design? An Experiential Approach to Early Modern Ottoman Hospital Architecture

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Frank Lloyd Wright commented in 1948 that “Hospital patients should never be imbued with the idea that they are sick…” Ironically, in subsequent decades architects moved farther away from restorative environments and made functional efficiency their sole guiding principle. Since the 1980s, however, the medical establishment has once again shown interest in the built environment where healthcare is delivered, and in the ways architecture and gardens can support or undermine healing—a turn summarized by the concept “healing by design”. This essay takes as starting point the present knowledge of successful hospital architecture, as it rests on evidence-based design, and through its lens examines early modern Ottoman hospital architecture, in order to understand how these buildings shaped users’ sensory experiences, how they conformed to four qualities of space essential to “healing by design” (orientation, connection, scale, and symbolic meaning), and how they promoted well-being and assisted in the therapeutic process.

Affiliations: 1: Koç University, Istanbul,


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