The Bartlett School of Architecture


Rosica Pachilova

Rosica Pachilova



Communication Networks in Healthcare: Physical and Virtual Spaces

Primary and secondary supervisors

Dr Kerstin Sailer and Professor Alan Penn


Good communication in hospitals is argued to contribute to good quality of care. In my research I study how the layout of hospitals affects the way patients and caregivers communicate, socialise, build networks and gain knowledge, and how these interactions influence health processes and care. Of interest are communication patterns within the physical space as well as beyond the boundaries of the building realised through the medium of technology.

Space syntax will be applied to analyse the layout of hospitals and social network analysis will be used to identify the network of relations of the participants. A new configurationally based method of modelling virtual space will be developed and applied providing a way of making spatial configuration topologically dynamic and resulting in hybrid architectural topologies.

The objectives of the study are: 1) to compare the current spatial and virtual communication patterns between and amongst caregivers and patients; 2) to study how healthcare has been delivered spatially and with the deployment of information technologies; 3) to investigate how the layout of hospitals and the consequent communication patterns influence quality of care.

The study will contribute with several innovations: 1) Developing a method for studying networks across scales, bringing social and spatial network analysis together; 2) Creating a taxonomy of relationships between virtual and physical space and a new configurationally based method to model virtual space; 3) Affording new insights into the provision of healthcare and the layout of hospitals which may inspire their future design.


Rosica commenced her PhD at the Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, University College London in January 2013. Her current research examines the spatial layout of hospitals and how it affects communication patterns amongst and between caregivers and patients, and thus ultimately the quality of care.

Rosica graduated from the Bartlett School of Graduate Studies with a Master’s Degree in Advanced Architectural Studies in 2011. Following her graduation, she started an internship at Space Syntax Limited where she worked on various urban design projects for a 6-month period.

Rosica worked as a research assistant at the Bartlett School of Graduate Studies in two research projects under the lead of Dr Kerstin Sailer: ‘SocioBuildings’ (investigating social life in buildings with the help of RFID badges) and ‘Communication Patterns in Outpatient Clinics’ (comparing two hospital buildings). The work on hospitals fascinated and inspired her to continue studying the complexity of healthcare buildings.

Rosica’s academic records also include a Master’s Degree in Architecture from the University of Architecture Civil Engineering and Geodesy Sofia, Bulgaria (2010). During her university years Rosica was working as a part-time architectural assistant in various architectural studios in Sofia. 

Publications and other work

Pachilova, R and Sailer, K. (2013), 'The Effect of Hospital Layout on the Caregivers-Patients Interface: Insights into the Practice of Evidence-Based Design in Hospitals', Abstract submitted to The 2nd European Design4Health conference, Sheffield, July 3-5, 2013

Sailer,K. Pachilova,R. Kostopoulou,E. Pradinuk,R. MacKinnon,D. Hoofwijk,T. (2013), 'Communication networks and patterns of encounter in outpatient clinics- how strongly programmed is a strong programme building?', Abstract submitted to the 9th International Space Syntax Symposium, Seoul, October 31 – November 3, 2013

Sailer, K. and Pachilova, R. (2013) 'Man Versus Machine – Testing Validity and Insights of Manual and Automated Data Gathering Methods in Complex Buildings', Abstract submitted to the 9th International Space Syntax Symposium, Seoul, October 31 - November 3, 2013