Redefining Cancer Care with a Blend of Creativity, Innovation, and Compassion27 June 2024

Peter Duffy

Peter Duffy Director

The architecture of healthcare facilities plays a pivotal role in both the functionality of cancer treatment and the holistic well-being of patients. When it comes to healthcare architecture, integrating patient care with cutting-edge medical technology is a paramount consideration.

Innovative Design Meets Patient Care

We led the design of the recently completed Radiation Oncology centres at University Hospital Galway and Cork University Hospital. These centres together house 13 radiotherapy treatment bunkers equipped with Brachytherapy, Treatment Planning, Radiation Physics, and Clinical Trials.

MCA's role as technical advisers on the Radiation Oncology centres at Beaumont Hospital and St James’s Hospital involved complex designs featuring four linear accelerator treatment rooms, MRI and CT facilities, and comprehensive consultation and support areas. These projects exemplify a sophisticated balance between advanced technology and patient-centred design, prioritising natural lighting and intuitive navigation to alleviate the stress associated with cancer treatment.

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Central lightwells at the Cork University Hospital Radiation Oncology Centre act as simple orientation devices

Centrality of Patient Experience

The essence of effective cancer care facility design lies in its ability to marry clinical functionality with a nurturing environment. Central lightwells and carefully chosen colour schemes transform potentially intimidating spaces into ones that support psychological and emotional healing. This approach not only optimises physical health outcomes but also addresses the emotional and mental well-being of patients, which is equally critical in the context of oncology care.

Natural light and views are integral to healthcare environment design. We utilise central top-glazed atria to flood public areas with light and aid intuitive wayfinding, and room configurations can be inflexible with large structures of up to 2.7m thick concrete required to shield from harmful radiation. These lightwells connect patient areas across different floors, creating a calming atmosphere and simplifying navigation. Every design decision, from lighting to colour schemes, is informed by the patient journey, ensuring a pleasant and supportive environment.

The buildings, despite their technical complexity, are designed to feel approachable and non-intimidating. Critical adjacencies are carefully planned to minimise patient waiting times and ensure staff support functions are easily accessible.

Sustainable Architectural Practices

Choosing between in-situ concrete and innovative solutions like modular shielding blocks involves assessing embodied carbon and transportation impacts. Modular blocks, though quicker to install and potentially reusable, come with higher capital costs and significant transport considerations. These decisions reflect MCA’s broader commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of healthcare facilities, demonstrating how responsible architectural practices can contribute to a more sustainable future.

Vision for Future Healthcare Environments

The future of healthcare architecture is marked by a continued emphasis on enhancing patient experiences through both technological advancements and empathetic design. The ongoing upgrades of imaging and treatment equipment and the development of new facilities are geared towards creating environments that are not only technically proficient but also genuinely supportive of those they serve.

Our focus remains on improving patient experiences and integrating advanced medical technologies. Current projects include upgrading MRI, CT, and Linear Accelerator equipment at Beaumont, St Lukes, and St James' over the next five years, as well as developing new facilities at Cavan Hospital. These initiatives reflect our commitment to leading the way in cancer care design, ensuring that every facility we create enhances patient care and well-being.

Focusing on spaces that blend safety, innovation, and compassion underscores the transformative potential of architecture in enhancing the quality of care and the importance of thoughtful design in healthcare settings.

Peter Duffy

Peter Duffy Director