Hana Lesáková; foto: Adéla Drnovská.
Hana Lesáková; foto: Adéla Drnovská.

The Architecture of Care. Editorial ERA21 #02/2021

Hana Lesáková

We’ve decided to dedicate two issues, back-to-back, to a single subject for the very first time. We’ve been developing the concept of the healthcare issue, together with guest-editor Irena Hradecká, since last December, until it finally grew too big and complex to fit in one magazine. Architecture of Health came out in February and it was, paradoxically, mostly about disease. By the same token, Architecture of Care will be a lot about death. After all, both are natural parts of life, much as we like to tell ourselves otherwise.

So we leave behind overregulated hospitals designed for technology and give our attention instead to diverse building types for providing care: we visit centers caring for people with long-term illnesses, facilities for rehabilitation and therapy, care homes for the elderly, and hospices. What do they have in common? The stark contrast between the situation of the user, in this case a person with a long-term mental or physical condition, and the architect, predominantly male, in his prime and with a successful career, is laid bare here more than anywhere else. Therefore it’s crucial to include an open-minded and detailed discussion with the client, and if at all possible, the end user, in the design process. There’s no putting yourself in the patients’ shoes, really.

Once again, the April issue of ERA21 settles somewhere between the realms of academic paper and architectural travel guide. It’s a polaroid snapshot of a moment in time, capturing our current, limited understanding, tinted with present-day worries. To everyone who collaborated on it, thank you! Even if the collaboration didn’t go past the astute observation that: “lockdown with no babysitter means actual care takes priority over the architecture of care.”

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