“You’re not alone in anything
You’re not unique in dying”

Conor Oberst, Bright Eyes, The People’s Key, Saddle Creek Records, 2011

Understanding the significance and role of architectural design in the co-production of in-patient hospices encompassing stakeholder narratives and ethnographic practice

With our aspirations for a good life – should it not be that we live this good life to the very end? Dying has, for a long time occurred at home, a place of safety and comfort – yet as we live longer and medical sciences advance, more than half the population are now dying in hospital environments.

Large medical institutions, such as hospitals can often be clinical and sterile feeling – environments that are designed and built to support diagnosis and treatment for identified illnesses. Hospices however, practice palliative care, and are becoming more widely accepted in our experiences of the end of our lives. For those not able to remain at home – the in-patient hospice provides bedded round the clock care for those in the very last period of their life in a place that focuses not only on symptom management but psychological and emotional care.

Yet in-patient hospices often look and feel much like a hospital. In architectural terms, the ‘language’ of the spaces does not reflect the attitude that palliative care champions; that of comfort, dignity and safety. This research aims to use the direct experiences of the people using the in-patient hospice, from the staff to volunteers to those at the end of their lives to understand how the building itself makes them feel. This will then be developed to help architects, designers and hospices themselves understand how best to approach future projects in a more informed and holistic manner.


Bellamy, A. 2020.The insider vs the outsider: architectural investigations of palliative care environments as both researcher and daughter. Paper and online publication at the 17th AHRA Ph.D Student Symposium, 22 Apr 2020

Bellamy, A. 2019. Tensions: home vs institution. Presented at: Royal College of Art OPEN Emotional Practices digital exhibition

Bellamy, A. 2018. Where do you want to die? Presented at: RIBA Research Matters Conference 2018, Sheffield, UK, 18 Oct 2018

Bellamy, A. 2018. Designing Dying Well. Presented at Marie Curie Annual Conference 2018, London, UK, 17 Oct 2018

Bellamy, A. 2018. Designing dying well: A question of homeliness. Poster session presented at the Materialities of Care – Buildings in the Making A Sociological Exploration of Architectural Design for Care, York, UK, 18 Sep 2018 (Winner of Best Poster)

Bellamy, A. 2017. A Place for Mortality: In-patient Hospice Architecture and its Role in a Dignified Death. Paper presented at: STS(In)Sensibilities, 4S Society for Social Sciences Annual Conference, Boston, USA, 30 Aug – 2 Sep 2017

Bellamy, A. 2017. A Place for Mortality: A comparative study investigating the phenomena of being able to dwell within in-patient hospice environments, and the role of the architecture of hospices in a dignified death. Unpublished thesis, Cardiff University


Email: bellamyas@cardiff.ac.uk

Twitter: @anniesbellamy