Design Champion: Susan Francis

The animated atmosphere that marked the presentation of the European Healthcare Design Awards – the closing session of the European Healthcare Design Congress – gave way to one of deep respect, deference and more than a tinge of sadness, as the late Susan Francis, the Congress’ chair and Architects for Health’s programme director, was honoured with the Design Champion Award 2017.

The special individual prize, supported by Integrated Health Projects, is awarded to a visionary healthcare leader who has championed, advocated and monitored the value of design across one or more major healthcare projects, working in close collaboration with multiple stakeholders to deliver excellence and set new standards in design quality; Susan, who passed away following illness in April, personified such qualities throughout her distinguished career. undefined - undefined

Respected worldwide for her dedication over many decades to healthcare design, Susan’s ideas thread through every fibre of European Healthcare Design. The Design Champion Award recognises her legacy and lasting vision in the field – not least, her immense contribution in helping launch and organise the Congress since its inception in 2015. Indeed, as her colleague and friend, Claudia Bloom, director of Avanti Architects, so eloquently put, the Congress represents “a fitting memorial to her work”.

Sue began her professional life in the co-operative movements of the late 70s and early 80s, and she was a founder member of the Matrix Feminist Design Cooperative, working across disciplines as an architect, enabler, writer and occasional political firebrand. She also held positions at the Medical Architecture Research Unit (MARU), the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), and the Future Health Network at the NHS Confederation, before joining Architects for Health (AfH) as programme director in 2011.

The European Healthcare Design Congress is one of several fitting memorials to her vision, the network of contacts and bonds of friendship she had developed across Europe, and her ability to bring people together in a common cause. The lengthy applause that rang out to acknowledge her honour signified the profound connections she made during her life and career, as well as the esteem in which she was held among the healthcare design community.