Reader Submitted: How a Ukrainian NGO is Improving Post-Soviet Children's Hospitals Through Design

For The Vlada Brusilovskaya Fund, contemporary interactive design is a way to improve service of post-Soviet children’s hospitals. The charitable foundation has been collaborating with both young and experienced Ukrainian designers for three years, aiming to change the relationship between doctors, patients and their parents for the better.

Post-Soviet interior sickness nursed by therapeutic design

Children’s hospitals built in the Soviet Union from 1950s to 1980s are easily confused with any other official governmental building of that time. Austere concrete, gloomy dirty-green corridors, uncomfortable waiting chairs on thin metal legs and aggressive red posters on the walls ordering patients around or, more often, prohibiting something… hospital interiors could be associated with a prison rather than with a place where help is found.

However, the first impression is not far from the truth. In Soviet times, architecture was part of ideology. It was aimed at suppressing freedom of will and destroying the sense of self as an independent person.

Most Ukrainian hospitals today look exactly the same as in the 50s or 60s. Since the 1990s, less than 10% of medical institutions in Ukraine have been built or reconstructed.

Children suffer from Soviet official interior design the most. They easily become stressed and depressed. Prolonged treatment in old hospitals leads to mental injuries that are not immediately apparent, but remain for life. This is seen in particular, in adulthood, when they try by all means to avoid professional treatment or get suspicious of doctors and medical institutions in general.

Our organization has undertaken the mission to make the environment of old hospitals friendly, to inspire doctors and provoke the hospital directors to change the appearance of their institutions.

CUBA BUBA #1
pioneer box-like play centre for Ukrainian Children’s Hospitals, 2017
CUBA BUBA #2
All CUBA BUBA play centres have the same size (2,4?1,7?2,3m). Architects invented the standard, having studied the Soviet engineering standards for children’s institutions.
CUBA BUBA #1
CUBA BUBA #2
second box-like play center for entertainment and treatment, 2017
CUBA BUBA #2
climbing ropes to create patterns on the walls of the play centre
CUBA BUBA #3
the third play centre is a home-like version of the first one, 2017
CUBA BUBA #4
the team expanded the CUBA BUBA environment to include the whole room, 2018
CUBA BUBA #4
a huge bamboo percussion instrument inside CUBA BUBA #4, 2018
CUBA BUBA #4
CUBA BUBA #5
a working project of the hospital ward

View the full project here
Source: core77

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