WIT Press

Reuse Of Historic Naval Hospitals


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457 - 469




299 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


C. M. Clark


In this paper we assess the futures of historic naval hospitals – once the sailors have left leave – as contributions to the achievement of the sustainable city. Hospitals for nations’ navy sailors were built in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in many countries, their impressive design reflecting pride in national fleets and in the sailors who manned them. Naval physicians and surgeons devised many innovative therapies and cures, contributing greatly to international medical knowledge. They also developed therapeutic architecture. Defence cuts and reductions in the defence estate have left several grand naval hospital complexes empty and looking for new uses. Whether they have viable futures depends on many factors: differing processes of state land disposal, civilian planners’ actions, legislation to protect historic structures, location, financing for adaptive reuse, the state of local economies, and campaigning by national bodies and local communities to ensure that future uses accord with their distinguished pasts. This paper examines naval hospitals’ history, design and the transition to the many and varied civilian uses achieved once redundant. It draws on examples from the United States and Europe. Naval hospitals’ new roles as universities, training establishments and schools, museums, offices and workshops, residences and medical centres contribute to the achievement of the sustainable city, but the fate of some important examples remains uncertain. Keywords: naval hospital, therapeutic architecture, sustainable reuse. 1 Introduction \“In all well regulated armies and navies, physicians and surgeons are appointed to take charge of those who are wounded; or who suffer by the insidious attack of disease.” Edward Cutbush 1808 [1]. Sailors’ life on board national fleets was brutal and dangerous, their diet monotonous, hygiene and sanitation minimal. They suffered war wounds, burns, splinter injuries, tropical fevers, mental


naval hospital, therapeutic architecture, sustainable reuse