Cure and Care_the rehabilitation

February 1, 2017 to January 31, 2020
36 months
Funding Entity
Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology

This project aims to study healthcare buildings built in Portugal in the 20th century and their role in the welfare society policy, approaching future challenges driven by the developments in technology and medicine, and the need to assure a sustainable built environment.
Responding to health necessities, health care buildings are a guarantee of civilization. Subject to permanent alterations, in the context of the society transformations, these buildings will be transformed, deactivated or even demolish in a near future. In the last 50 years poverty and famine have declined whereas healthcare, education and emancipation have improved significantly worldwide. All this was possible due to modernity’s devotion to innovations in science and technology. Yet this striking progress has created incredibly damaging effects as well. The effort to renew the world with pre-existing structures goes against the devotion to the constant new, which is still dominating our behaviour. On a historical, cultural and social level, the development of appropriate techniques of conservation and rehabilitation towards a sustainable built environment includes reflecting on cure and care structures. Furthermore it’s also necessary to develop a wide perspective concerning the complexity of cure and care in the 21st century world addressing the sustainability issue beyond the material boundaries in order to consider the large societal concerns, namely the ones related to cultural concepts, the sense of belonging or identity values. In fact, heritage recognized as a strategic resource implies the consideration of its symbolic, social, economic and environmental aspects.
Therefore this research is focused on rehabilitation strategies, considering both conservation and reuse interventions. To answer present day requirements of comfort, safety and legal constraints, the project will also evaluate the tolerance to change of health care buildings addressing identity and authenticity values. As health becomes a central focus of political debate, the question raises if architects, engineers and planners are able to follow the social and medical experts, on seeking a new disciplinary and political agenda to deal with the innovations in medical science and technology.
This question needs to be brought to light in the Portuguese context with a comprehensive study capable to identify case studies addressing how healthcare buildings rehabilitation can be a powerful tool to promote a better life. For this reason the project is entitled CuCA_RE, Cure and Care, the rehabilitation. The project will start with healthcare buildings study, a typology that has not been studied yet in Portugal. It will consider the impact of healthcare buildings on the built environment analysing the role of the existing ones and thinking about how to manage future interventions.
The methodology will establish a set of criteria for the selection and description of buildings. It will integrate several information sources and the redrawing of the identified case studies: analysed from the site description up to the technological detail. By these means, it will be possible to establish conservation and rehabilitation tools and global strategies for the reutilization. The project will develop a meaningful knowledge for a responsible practice of planning and design addressing environment and cultural sustainable concerns. Partner institutions decided to collaborate with CuCa_RE on the basis of their previous experience from which it is to refer the widespread recognition of the project leader research on modern movement architecture and construction history while the other team members have also developed studies about 20th century urbanism and specifically addressing the care and cure issue in Portugal, or about history and theory of restoration, and history of medicine in Portugal. The rehabilitation and reuse in terms of their construction and technologies also profit from the thermal, energy and structural expertise of the ISTID researchers. CuCa_RE will be a significant contribution to knowledge in the healthcare buildings and its rehabilitation, as it concentrates on both the survey of the existing building types and the development of a technological KnowHow as well as considering conservation and rehabilitation strategies.
The main questions, which CuCa_RE will address, are the following:
(1) How did the healthcare buildings design in Portugal, during the 20th century, answer to human health circumstances and how were they reflected in the built environment?
(2) Regarding the tolerance to change concepts, in which way is it possible to rehabilitate these buildings preserving identity and authenticity values?
(3) Facing future challenges, what is the potential of the existing healthcare buildings to be an integrated response to social innovation?


Project outputs include an online database with information about health buildings in Portugal in the 20th century; organization of scientific events (workshops, seminarsand one international conference) and of one exhibition; the publication of one book and of a Guide for Good Practices.


This project is coordinated by IST-ID (Associação do Instituto Superior Técnico para a Investigação e o Desenvolvimento) and the Principal Investigator is Ana Tostões, IST-ID.

Apart from CES, team partners include  Administração Central do Sistema de Saúde, I.P.;  DireçãoGeral do Património Cultural (DGPC); Docomomo Internacional; Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa; Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian and Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa.

architecture, health, rehabilitation, social innovation