Professor Raymond Moss MBE obituary

Born 1926, died 2015. A graduate of the School of Architecture (Dip Architecture 1949).

Influential architectural health planner, architect, researcher and teacher best known for founding Architects for Health and Medical Architectural Research Unit (MARU) and his alumni, has died aged 89.

As early as 1993 Professor Moss advocated putting the ‘head’ back into health planning proposing that an ‘RIBA Health and Hospitals Committee (or some other appropriate title)’ should be formed to whom the UIA/Public Health Group can relate and which could provide a focus for meetings, discussion, visits, publications, and so on. Furthermore, such a group could provide a corporate voice for architects in health planning. It is from a deep understanding of the importance of strategic health planning as a necessary prerequisite for quality and functional design health architecture that Professor Moss initiated Architects for Health as a loose association of architects in health planning in early 1993, formalising the organisation in late 1993 with the appointment of an Executive Committee.

At every opportunity Professor Moss championed tirelessly about the relevance of Strategic Health Planning and NHS Estates writing numerous articles such as ‘Planning Practice: Past Present and Future’, ‘The Dangers of Ignoring the Past’, ‘Getting value for money in the NHS through design’, ‘The fragility of health policy as a basis for design’ and speaking at events. Strategic Health Planning brings to the design process or to chaos and confusion; order, ‘smooth efficiency’ and times for thinking and for action without putting unrealistic pressures to produce design solutions more quickly. This means use of ‘smart’ timetables in planning, aspects, which demonstrate that future performance has been taken into account as part of the brief, including identifying those functions likely to expand most rapidly in terms of related health departments.

Professor Moss argued for getting value for money in the NHS pointing out that we no longer have a ‘systematic’ method of design as a result of which it is ‘bits’ of problems that get looked at. Indeed in this case, it is helpful to remember the quotation- ’I have six honest serving men, who serve me well and true, their names are What, and Why, and When, and Where, and How and Who’. Crucially, the pursuit of ‘value for money’ in a Nationalised Service should ensure that the ‘whole’ is working efficiently and effectively before fiddling with parts or at least it is important to demonstrate that the potential ‘improvement’ will not make things worse something, which all too often seems to be the case.

On compliance with Health Systems and Technical Standards Guidance, an essential requirement to foster design quality and innovation in healthcare Professor Moss referred to the burgeoning legislation: ‘Where before you had 4 manageable and affordable HBNs (Health Building Notes) now you have over 16, which are difficult and expensive to keep fresh and up to date with the changing technologies’. In so doing, highlighting the need for reform or an overhaul of the ensemble of systems and standards developed after the formation of the NHS in 1947 and which are no longer fit for the 21st century or for the new procurement routes for hospitals and other healthcare facilities such as PFI.

Professor Moss was not content in seeking that health architects collaborate or come together so that they are able to speak with a single voice and address the challenges of delivering an NHS estate that supports the NHS founding principles but had to practice from what he believed in founding MPA International Health Strategy & Planning in 1986.

Research into health planning and design had invaluable practical significance to Professor Moss leading him to set up in 1967 the Medical Architectural Research Unit (MARU) and becoming its first Director; and in 2004 establishing the Howard Goodman Research Fellowship at Imperial College, London. The Howard Goodman Research Fellowship recognised the contribution made by Howard Goodman to health planning and design but also represented continuity with successful hospital planning first identified in the 1955 Nuffield Studies.

Ray studied at The University of Sheffield, School of Architecture, under Professor Stephen Welch, a Rome Scholar and Head of Architecture, graduating in 1949 alongside David Alford, one of his greatest friends and partner in YRM Architects. In 1956, Ray was awarded the RIBA Henry Saxon Snell Prize and Theakson Bequest for studies in ‘The Improvement of Hospital Design’. In 1961, Ray was awarded (jointly with Professor Cowan) the RIBA Alfred Bossom Research Fellowship for ‘Post Graduate Research’. In1973, Ray was appointed member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for services to hospital architecture (MBE). In 2007, Ray was awarded the first Building Better Healthcare (BBH) Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of services to the Healthcare Environment.

He leaves his wife, Vidanea, sons Steven (Head of Property of UK Atomic Energy) and Julian (Professor & Producer of Dance, Sweden), grand children Oliver, Luther, Maya and Imogen and a great-grand child Effiena.