Can ‘healing’ architectural elements be incorporated into current and future hospitals to create environments that aid recovery and improve patient experience?
The modern day hospital: institutions experienced by the majority, yet, arguably, often have a palpable absence of positive, meaningful and health-encouraging environments. This research project investigates the extent to which architecture and interiors can directly impact a hospital patient’s recovery, in conjunction with considering the factors prohibiting relevant healing architectural features from being consistently implemented in the hospital design process.
When considering places devoted to healing the sick have a recorded historical presence dating back to ancient Greece, there is relative early exploration into ‘healing’ architectural features and the legitimate effectiveness of a health-enhancing built environment. Project research into the historical progression and cultural interpretations of hospitals in addition to an exploration of scientific architectural studies aided an understanding of the societal role of hospitals and analysis of recovery associated designs. Primary findings were collated from visiting three contrasting healthcare sites, hospital patient interviews and a public hospital experience survey.
With 48% of survey participants, as the majority, stating they felt worse within an environment that is intended to have the opposite effect, it highlights a concern for hospitals and patient experience. Largely, hospitals can provide healing spaces if they offer an environment that finds a balance between avoiding stress inducing features, such as poor wayfinding and lack of natural light, alongside the provision of spaces that are both rejuvenating and engaging. Despite the conjunction between the fields of neuroscience and architecture continuing to prove the impact of architectural features on the mind and body, the expense and potential impracticality of healing architecture often prevents them from being retrofitted in existing hospitals or involved in new builds. Notably, the understanding of the human perception of space and the power of patient experience are the neglected elements that need to be reintroduced during the concept phase of hospital projects.