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Optimal Design Considerations for Hospices: A Repository for the Latest Developments in Hospice Design

Architects, interior designers and landscape architects are invited to submit drawings/plans capturing key elements of design for hospices.

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Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine the end-of-life experience?

This project is intended to raise international standards of architectural, interior and landscape design for spaces intended for dying patients and their families. While the field of architecture is largely focused on rendering spaces for optimal living, little attention has been paid to how to create spaces that are optimal for people approaching end-of-life. This will include integration of technology in new creative ways, in order to facilitate connectedness to people, places and events.


Here is what we have done:

1. We sent an email to about 30 people (patients, family members, healthcare providers, healthcare administrators; and people working in the design industry). SEE OpenIDEO.1.pdf

2. The email explained what OpenIDEO is, briefly what our idea is about, and our need to get their feedback! SEE OpenIDEO.2.pdf

3. We also sent them a copy of what our User Experience map looks like so far! SEE OpenIDEO.3.pdf (or if you prefer, check out the images above).

4. They also received a copy of our 'what to prototype' document. SEE OpenIDEO.4.pdf

5. Last but not least, we have been collecting all of their feedback; and here is what we have heard so far!! SEE OpenIDEO.5.pdf

Based on what we are hearing from patients, bereaved families, healthcare providers, healthcare administrators, IT business consultants and designers, we remain convinced that there is a real need for this project, and that it could help facilitate and inform the design of those critically important spaces intended for dying patients and their families, worldwide.

Our team remains excited about this project, and having heard from all of our key stakeholders, is convinced that this idea is a winner!!

Harvey, Shelly and George.

The spaces in which we live our lives are important. So too are the spaces we will spend our final months, weeks and days of life; as we are accompanied by those who care most about us, anticipating the inevitability of death. With the growing rates of cancer, our aging population and the challenges associated with mounting disability and frailty, the need for hospice facilities is ever increasing. While much of architectural design focuses on spaces for healthily living, far less attention has been paid to key elements of design optimal for dying patients and their families. These spaces must accommodate certain practical elements, such as accessibility, equipment placement and storage; and the various accouterments of healthcare provision; but must also impart a feeling of tranquility, refuge and healing. Design should consider facilities with easy access to the outdoors, and the ability to shift a room's focus from community to privacy. Current hospice design is polarized around two populations, infants and young children, and older adults. Other specialty hospice facilities (such as adolescent and young adult; or indigenous people and culturally sensitive spaces) are also of great interest in this project.

This project will invite architects, interior designers, landscape architects and healthcare professionals worldwide to submit their design ideas, by way of design drawings and/or more fully developed plans and photographs, illustrating core elements of optimal architectural approaches in rendering these unique spaces. These submissions will be housed in a publicly available repository located on the Canadian Virtual Hospice (, thus providing an unprecedented resource that will inform the creation of healing spaces for the dying worldwide.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

The Manitoba Government is committed to create an International Centre on Dignity and Palliative Care (ICDPC). This project is still in its early phases, and fundraising and land acquisition are currently underway. The ideas gleaned from this Hospice Design OpenIDEO could be used to help inform the design of three hospice facilities (Indigenous Hospice; Pediatric Hospice; Adult Hospice), which will be constructed as part of ICDPC.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

This idea will benefit greatly from the input of the OpenIDEO community. It contains elements that implicate the field of architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, palliative care; but will also require input from business experts, social medial experts, and IT experts, to help facilitate key aspects of this international initiative.

Tell us about your work experience:

George Cibinel is a highly experienced, creative and successful architect; and consultant on the International Centre on Dignity and Palliative Care. Dr. Chochinov holds the only Canada Research Chair in Palliative Care. Shelly Cory is the Executive Director of the Canadian Virtual Hospice

This idea emerged from

  • A group brainstorm


Join the conversation:

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