From barracks to malls: how hospital design has been a matter of life and death

Medical centre architecture has changed dramatically since convict times, from simple huts to supportive spaces that reduce patient anxiety and stress

Although architecture surrounds us and we engage with it daily, most assume design is benign or inert. Yet it shapes our actions and interactions. In the hospital, design can make the difference between life and death.


Architecture has played a crucial role in the hospital: as an instrument of status, of hygiene, of therapy, of control and, more recently, of support.

As far as we know, the first hospital in Australia was built in Sydney in 1788 and Governor