Friday, February 4, 2011


It is obvious that hospitals are never a place where one wants to be found.  It is typically a place where one wants to steer clear of.  But, we all know that it is a place that can sometimes be hard to avoid.  So why not make it as enjoyable as possible.  It is no secret that humans are influenced by our surroundings.  So as designers, we have an important job to design a space that provides positive energy where people can enjoy the space they are in no matter the circumstance.  It has been proven that the design of a hospital can directly impact a patients health.  Because of this knowledge, designers are now straying from a bland, sterile looking decor and moving toward the use of color, nature and way finding in order to create a space that can ease a patients hospital stay. An article I recently read talked about the 5 Ways Hospital Design Influences Patient Health.

In the paper, Is there a Psychologist in the Building by Christian Jarrett, hospital layout is listed as quite an important factor for patients. Going beyond simple signage, hospital patients should be able to have a sense of their location without ever feeling lost. It has been found that having a sense of place helps keep patient stress levels down.(1)
Also important to hospital design is the frequency of private rooms in a hospital. Providing private rooms reduces medication error and falling instances.(1) I’m sure you can imagine that private rooms also make for better visiting with patients and their loved ones.
Hospitals that include nature and artwork are providing for more positive patient experiences. Both nature and artwork contribute to patients having a greater “sense of well-being” where spaces lend themselves toward contemplation and feeding the senses.(1)
A major problem within hospitals today is noise. Often patients cannot sleep through the night as medical carts screech through the halls and doors open and close. Hospital designers should pay greater attention to acoustics within hospitals as noisy environments generate more stress for patients. Also, sleep is critical for patient recovery.
Use of color in hospital design has a multitude of uses. Color can help patients have a sense of orientation – where color is used to give different hospital areas a sense of place. Also, color has been known to be associated with mood. Using the right colors in waiting areas, examination rooms, hallways or patient private rooms can have a definite affect on patient motivation and stress levels.

By designing health care facilities with these five things in mind one is able to create and enjoyable environment.  Who Knows it could possibly be a design that heals!

Image photographer: Charles Davis Smith | Architect: RTKL Associates Inc. | Healthcare Design

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