Reinterpreting the Hospital Corridor: “Wasted Space” or Essential for Quality Multidisciplinary Clinical Care?

Written by Jane Carthey


The planning of New South Wales (NSW) and other Australian health facilities is guided by the Australasian Health Facility Guidelines (AHFG), which prescribe allowances for circulation (corridors and similar areas for movement between spaces) of between 10 percent and 40 percent of functional floor areas. A further allowance of up to 28 percent for Travel and Engineering is then assumed (University of NSW & Health Capital Asset Managers' Consortium, 2005). Therefore the “circulation” and “travel” space manifested as the corridors and similar movement spaces within health facilities is both extensive and expensive. Consequently, such space often becomes regarded as a necessary evil and, in the name of efficiency, is often minimized wherever possible. This paper revisits the view that corridor space allocations (circulation) must always be minimized to achieve design or functional efficiencies. Minimizing circulation or travel inevitably assumes that the realized space savings will then be reallocated to “more important” areas of the facility. Yet the corridors and other movement spaces also are very important to the functioning of multidisciplinary clinical teams and the quality of care delivery. Ultimately, inflexibly reducing the space allocated to such spaces may be regarded as a false economy.

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