As healthcare shifts from treatment of existing illness to more preventive care, the opportunities for the built environment keep expanding. We’ve now got flu vaccine clinics in our grocery stores while former retail spaces in commercial areas are being converted to outpatient facilities.

Providers are also incorporating design features within hospitals that encourage patients and staff to be more active, and thus healthier. Among the examples are Kaiser Permanente’s appealing stairwells at its Westside Medical Center that encourage taking the steps over taking the elevator, and Bridgepoint Active Healthcare’s and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s inviting outdoor spaces for therapy as well as reconnecting with the community.

But are we overlooking another obvious partner on the road to preventative care: sports arenas and facilities?

Panini Architecture, a Netherlands-based firm, recently held an exhibition called “sportsCARE: explorations into the architecture of sports + healthcare,” in Rotterdam, Netherlands, which looked at better integrating the two.

“SportCARE is essentially a salutogenic approach to healthcare design,” say Sebastiaan Luiten and Stefan van Nederpelt, founding architects of Panini Architecture. “Health stimulation (sports) is introduced into a realm traditionally occupied with curing disease (hospital).”

As part of the exhibit, the firm invited Morfis, a firm specializing in architecture and urbanism (The Hague, Netherlands), to develop a plan for turning one of the Brazilian World Cup stadiums into a hospital.

Morfis’ proposal is a “hospitadium,” which retains some of the sports functions of the stadium while adding key hospital functions.

Design ideas for the concept include:

  • Using the main field as a training ground with a recreational garden, where patients and other visitors can exercise or relax while waiting for their doctors/instructors
  • Locating doctors’ offices at the edges of the field
  • Placing key hospital functions, like an operating area, in the outer ring
  • A logistics floor underneath the field would house logistical functions, so that the infrastructure above the ground can remain a people-friendly zone
  • Patients' rooms reminiscent of skyboxes would be located in the upper ring of the stadium, with views to the field and gardens (see image above).

Luiten and van Nederpelt say they hope the sportCARE concept inspires further discussion about how preventative care concepts can be integrated into the built environment, creating a healing and stimulating environment for both sick and healthy people.

What do you think of the idea of collocating sports and healthcare? Are there other spaces where healthcare should be looking to integrate?