Some people consider that architectural design has had a negative impact on the natural environment and humans, but should this be the case? If we look at specifically the healthcare Industry, the latest technological advances in medicine are normally the innovations which receive the largest amount of attention but are there more basic human needs that should be looked at?
New Hospital Tower Rush University Medical Center | Designed by Perkins+Will, Photography: James Steinkamp, Steinkamp Photography
AL QASSIMI MATERNITY HOSPITAL, SHARJA, UAE URBANISM PLANNING ARCHITECTURE, Paolo Lettieri, Celso Career II
If you were to describe a healthcare setting how would you describe it? The most common words people associate with a healthcare setting are words like hygienic, clinical, sterile with an image of doctors wearing pristine white lab coats and scrubs.
Even though these factors are important to these environments that help to successfully heal patients, there are many other highly beneficial options overlooked. These resources are not hard to find and are an intrinsic part of every human on the planet.
Essential Oils in Hospitals: The Ethics, Safety, Cost and Application of Clinical Aromatherapy, By Sue Pace
Biophilic design is defined by Dr Stephen R Kellert as “an innovative approach that emphasises the necessity of maintaining, enhancing and restoring the beneficial experience of nature in the built environment”. He describes this form of design coming from the term Biophilia, meaning life loving. Edward O. Wilson in his book “Biophilia,” published in 1984 again referred to the term Biophilia as “the innate tendency to focus on life and the lifelike processes”.
Biophilic Design The Theory, Science and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life by Stephen R. Kellert, Judith Heerwagen, Martin Mador
Biophilia by Edward O. Wilson
What is the impact on patients?
Bendigo Hospital, Designed by Bates Smart Silver Thomas Hanley Photography by Shannon McGrath
Many people can benefit from the biophilic design principle, from the workplace to the home environment. Healthcare patients can especially benefit such as when in hospital or a GP’s surgery. The exposure to natural elements, whether that be directly or indirectly from nature can help with the healing process. By incorporating the principles of Biophilic Design into architecture this provides another form to help the recovery of the patient.
Chevron-shaped window hoods identify the principal inpatient, acute care wards of the main hospital building at Perth’s Fiona Stanley Hospital. Image: Peter Bennetts
Navyas Medical Center. Bangalore, India. Designed by Cadence Architects
Pain is caused when our sensory receptors in our skin send a message through our nerve fibres to our spinal cord and brainstem and onto our brain. Here the brain registers the sensation of pain, processes this telling the body that it is in pain. Although the feeling of pain can be controlled by emotional and psychological factors, studies have shown that when patients are provided with a connection to nature, the pain is often relieved without or with a decrease in pain relief. When positive feelings of relaxation are experienced through a view of the natural environment, the patients focus on the injury becomes distracted and the pain is reduced.
The Royal Children's Hospital - Interiors, Melbourne Designed by Bates Smart
Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus, Ohio, Architects: FKP Architects Interiors: Ralph Appelbaum & Associates
One of the main factors to consider in healthcare design, is trying to reduce stress as this is a major determining factor in healing rates. Research has shown that when patient rooms have a view of nature, long-term stays are generally shorter, less pain relief is dispensed, and people’s overall health condition improves. Realistic images of natural features such as gardens, waterscapes and landscapes have been shown to reduce stress and improve the results of pain relief. A recent experiment has been conducted with blood donors and found that those who viewed a wall mounted television showing a tape of nature had lower blood pressure and pulse rate than the donors who watched a tape of a talk or game show. This illustrates that even if we don’t have a direct connection to nature, imagery of nature can have positive benefits on patient’s health and wellbeing.
Pediatrician's Office, by Architect Ming Lok
In summery you can see that Biophilic Design can have a massive impact on both our health and wellbeing and also help aid recovery. This is why Biophilic design is so important for the healthcare industry to help alleviate pressures through incorporating Biophilic elements into the design of hospitals, rehabilitation units and healthcare settings.