Having recently visited some of the most modern hospitals in the world, I have been struck by the style of their architecture. There seems to be a changing face of medicine, whereby the expressions of the building housing the body of medicine mirror certain conceptualizations of the human body. I began to wonder how does this affect our experience of ourselves in both health and illness. From the compartmentalized, sterile structures of cosmopolitan cities to the shacks of mountainside shamans, what are the similiarities and differences to be found?
I have visited hospitals all over the world. I have seen the breeze block clinics hidden in the folds of the mountains of Lesotho, where the Basotho people shield Nature’s elements with huge blankets, cast around themselves like huge wings, too burdened with life to be able to fly.
I stood in the shadows of Pristina’s hospital, of a saddening grey exteriority, central to the country of Kosovo, from where its windows bore witness to the visitor of war haunting its walls, and burrowing into the ground holding its foundational pledge to heal and not to harm.
Then, I move to the neat boundaries of the United States of America and the towering glass buildings, ever so fragile yet not too afraid to expose and make transparent the anti-synthesis of health in this shining landmark. Inside the body remains within the same boundaries that map the grids of the city streets except it is not the way home that we are directed to but the different specializations evolved from years of intensive studying of the human body, that somehow finds the heart of Another in every room.
Following the sun set, I move to the South African plains, where fires and folk tales used to form the horizon swallowed up by an exodus to the cities, moving and forgetting the footprints of the Ancestors. In the air where communication would rise to those beyond a human freedom, the vast is open but empty. Its mind has wandered to a different pasture, into a nature we have created for a new way of being.
A transcending of physicality not quite sure where to go.
And I wonder for the movement of illnesses’ home in all of the travelling lands.
Where does the body of our Being become to belong to?
Hospitals are places where many people dread to enter, and contain the most important facets of our human condition; life, death, dying, and birth. It is therefore entirely understandable that the body, the identification of the person before us, and their experiences and memories are all represented within the structure of a hospital.
Our mind is the architect of illnesses design and hand in hand with Medicine itself, the corridors we walk through are ones constructed of hope, and perhaps, faith, and all lead to the envisioning of a cure, regardless of the material that the hospital is composed from.