The Archaeology of Terminology
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Archaeology is described as the study of ancient cultures through remains. In this paper the ancient culture is the terminology used within hospital design manuals and the remains are our outdated health buildings. Text is a powerful tool used by architects and designers as a tactic to identify specific spaces and people in a brief, on a drawing, within a building and ultimately on a signboard. The terms used are accompanied by implied information and preconceptions. When we analyse the terminology of architectural healthcare guidelines of the past, we start to understand the underlying questions asked and how the resultant buildings attempted to answer those questions. Attitudes to health, death and everything in between are expressed through these texts and inform the design of hospital buildings, many of which remain in use today. New hospitals have incorporated great changes that reflect efficiency and comfort, the institution and the individual, and health and well-being. However, the reality is many people die in hospital, yet death and dying with dignity are not considered part of the contemporary hospital's core activity. This paper seeks to provoke thought about the implications of the texts that preceded the hospital buildings we live with, with a view to challenging the texts currently being written and the buildings that will follow.
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