Framing the Capricious: The Built Response to Infectious Diseases in Victoria between 1850 and 1950
Room 121 (Theatre 3)
Alan Gilbert Building
In Victoria between 1850 and 1950, many new hospital buildings were constructed, including buildings for infectious diseases. Using architectural historical methods, Dr Daws examines isolation as a practice that is central to the built response to infectious diseases. Some isolation practices predated the germ theory of disease. Buildings in response to diseases such as smallpox, leprosy, plague and venereal diseases reveal subtle differences between the sites and type of facilities used for isolation and management of these diseases. Disparities and anomalies in the application of isolation in practice reveal gaps in the relationship between theory and practice. Dr Daws further evaluates the influence of the germ theory of disease and the contribution of curative medicine, epidemiology and public health on buildings for infectious diseases. Administrative complexity and the politics of health also contributed to the form of these buildings. She reveals a continuity of building practices framed by traditional concepts of disease causation and transmission, despite the acceptance of new ideas about diseases, suggesting a complex and nuanced relationship between theory, policy and practice.
Dr Karen Daws, St Vincent’s Hospital
Dr Karen Daws
St Vincent’s Hospital
Karen Daws is a registered nurse with a background in cardiac education, research and practice; outside of work one of her diversions is architectural history. Professionally one of Karen’s main areas of interests is around factors influencing nursing practice. These seemingly disparate elements have converged in a PhD in the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Melbourne titled “Framing the Capricious: the Built Response to Infectious Diseases in Victoria between 1850 and 1950”. The study revealed multiple and sometimes conflicting political, scientific and social influences on the number and type of buildings provided and some very arbitrary distinctions in management strategies for certain infectious diseases. These revelations resonate within the contemporary practice setting in general and in ideas about infectious diseases in particular.