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a life in architecture - sheila kitzinger

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A pioneer of choice for mothers when giving birth, and the freedom to be in control during delivery, has made Sheila Kitzinger MBE synonymous with the National Childbirth Trust. It comes as no surprise, then, to learn that her favourite building 'somewhere in Spain'- she thinks it may be Barcelona 'though the design has a Moorish feel to it'- is a birth room (pictured) 'designed by midwives, based on their understanding of how women act spontaneously in childbirth'.

She goes on to say: 'Almost any delivery room in hospitals all over the world is an example of how birth rooms should not be: clinical, cold, flooded with white light, with a central bed or delivery table, a huge clock opposite and a peephole through the door through which all and sundry can look at the woman and then wander in.' She cites a typical example at the University Hospital in Berlin, with 'black rubber tiles to soundproof the floor, walls and ceiling, a high narrow delivery table, and monitors banked outside in the corridor, so that midwives and doctors don't need to be with the mothers but can keep an eye on them from the hall.'

Happily, Kitzinger remembers more appropriate surroundings, and talks with pleasure about her second favourite piece. 'A birth nest constructed by native Americans on the Great Plains - an avenue of vertical stakes set in the ground, leading to a circular, openair hedged sanctuary, the interior of which is lined with rabbit fur or moss.'

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