Mainstream Healthcare Looks to Architecture to Create Healing Environments.
New thinking indicates that design plays an important
role in wellness
In medical facilities all over the nation, patients are benefiting from architectural designs that address not only their physical needs, but also their emotional and spiritual well being.
The idea that environment can positively enhance medical outcomes is gaining acceptance in mainstream medical institutions. Studies indicate that a less threatening, more soothing environment can help patients better deal with stress and recover more quickly--impacting the bottom line for both hospitals and patients.
This new thinking is seen in four recent projects by the Minneapolis-based architectural firm, Hammel Green and Abrahamson, Inc. (HGA).
Instead of looking up at tubes, wires and intimidating hardware that accompanies high-technology, patients undergoing non-invasive brain surgery in the new Gamma Knife suite at Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach, California, now have the opportunity to visually project themselves into the wild blue yonder.
The new view is a 10-foot-square photographic mural of a deep blue sky dotted with white puffy clouds. And not only does it provide the perfect place to let the imagination soar, this "skylight" also serves as the room's primary light source.
At the University of California Davis Medical Center, patient rooms have been designed with higher ceilings and "light scoops" which maximize the amount of natural light available. Even patients in in-board beds can look up and see clerestory light.
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, The Wiselives Clinic has been designed with the assistance of a practitioner of Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese art of orientation. The building was divided into quadrants to determine which were more favorably suited for healing, hospitality and reception.
Young patients at the Children's Hospital of Michigan are raving about bright, familiar colors and kid-sized furniture in their rooms. "And it's not just the patient rooms that are receiving this attention," says interior designer, Bobbi LeMieux. "We've also added games on corridor walls and spaces large enough for families to congregate. Interaction seems to promote wellness and get children into the right frame of mind to feel better."
Health futurist Leland Kaiser has long asserted that, "Healthcare environments can be a place that restore vitality, not just cure illness. The concept of a healing environment addresses spiritual as well as physical issues. The environment can promote health, healing and recovery."
While hard, scientific data is still in short supply regarding the value of health-promoting environments, what is conclusively known is that three factors promote healing and wellness--a sense of control, access to social support, and access to positive distractions.
Founded in 1953, HGA (http://www.hga.com) can often be found at the forefront of innovative architectural design. Complemented by its strong engineering, interior design and landscape architecture departments, the firm is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota with additional offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Rochester, Minnesota. HGA specializes in the design of healthcare facilities, schools and universities, museums, religious and cultural facilities, and corporate and industrial buildings.
CONTACT: Hammel Green and Abrahamson, Minneapolis
Larissa A. Rodriguez, 612/337-4327