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Hospital Corridor Smellscape

Every hospital has a particular smell, much like every city these smellscapes comprise a specific combination of odours. This project explores how the NHS hospital might be conceived and understood through its smellscape alone. Interactions of people, cleaning equipment and residual food and drink make for a contingent, intense and pervasive smellscape.

The virtual map requires you use your imagination to conjure the smells; from the weak and insipid coffee floating near the hospital canteen to the many bodies in the busy entrance halls, from metallic odours of stale blood emanating from the operating theatre to the sweaty, sticky, stale pong of the waiting room.

Research took the form of an open question snowballed to friends and colleagues of the Sensing Spaces team members and the designer. The smell descriptions were simplified from the original longer descriptions and collected into similar spaces. Smell shapes are an artistic interpretation of the descriptor.
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Date: 2020
Media & size: Digital print, 420mm x 297mm
Exhibited: 2014 – Illinois State University, Normal, USA 2013 – “Nostalgias”, The Pie Factory, Margate 2012 – Discover Newport Visitor Center

Commissioned by:
Sensing and Modern Health/care Environments network (Wellcome Trust).
This project offers a new way of approaching hospital history, for the benefit of hospital historians, designers and users. It focuses on more recent – and under-studied – hospitals of the National Health Service. It also rethinks the history of healthcare environments through the body and the senses, focusing on how places have felt rather than how they have looked. Visit Hospital Senses to find out more.

2020 – fc