Hospital design is evolving. We have moved from the Florence Nightingale era focused on regimes and hygiene to one of patient healing. And not just in a medical sense. Knowing that building design impacts our sense of wellbeing, we have entered the era of designing healthy health facilities. This was the topic of Michael Walker’s presentation at UD2021 Conference.
Michael’s presentation took a biophilic approach to designing health facilities. Biophilia is about increasing connection to the natural environment. This is achieved through the choice of building materials and/or direct connection to nature. He gave several examples of the design features that matter:
“Natural shapes and forms – the use of botanical and animal motifs, natural forms such as shells and spirals, egg, oval and tubular forms and shapes that generally resist straight lines and right angles.
Light and space – the use of natural, filtered or diffused light, the incorporation of shadows, warm light, spatial variability, spaciousness and the connection of inside and outside spaces.”
Other factors to consider in hospital design are:
- Wayfinding: Most people can be easily overwhelmed when trying to find their way in unfamiliar surroundings.
- Entrances: Arriving at a healthcare facility can be challenging for people and their carers. If arriving by car, there will be concerns about safety and wayfinding.
- Reception: Areas should be clearly identified and provide people the opportunity to identify that they may need help in navigating the engagement process.
The presentation slides have more information on this aspect of designing healthy health facilities. Michael’s presentation is titled, Design Matters to Make Well Spaces, and linked closely with Stefano Scalzo’s keynote address on universal design.