Biophilic Design for Hospitals

Biophilia itself refers to humankind’s innate biological connection with nature, and by encouraging that connection through design, businesses, schools, and even hospitals can expect to see increased wellbeing throughout their teams and patients.

Biophilic Design aims to reduce stress, enhance creativity and improve wellbeing by incorporating the natural world into man made spaces.

The Effects of Biophilic Design on patients Wellbeing

There is perhaps no environment more influential on the overall mood and wellbeing of its occupants than a hospital. Whilst the idea of a hospital is often filled with negative connotations, there is a real opportunity to look at how biophilic design can create a peaceful, calming and positive environment for both the patients and the medical staff working there. Many studies have been done on the effects of biophilia in hospitals, and the results show faster recovery rates for patients, decreased medication dependency, a reduction in stress for both staff and patient’s families as well as an overall improvement in emotional wellness.

A 1984 study by Roger Ulrich measured the influence of natural Vs urban sceneries on patients recovering from gallbladder surgery. Some patients were given a view of nature, while the others were given a view of a brick wall. The results showed a quicker recovery time for patients benefitting from a view of nature, and they were released from hospital after 7.96 days, compared to 8.71 days for patients with the view of a brick wall. This was not only great news for the patients themselves but also meant that over time there were sizable cost savings for the hospital itself.

Case Studies

A great example of biophilic design benefitting patient wellbeing in hospitals can be seen at the Östra Hospital psychiatric unit in Sweden. While the psychiatric

department does require locked doors, the designers wanted to avoid an institutional feel and create a more free and open experience using biophilic design.

‘Light courts’ in the centre of each department allow natural light to enter through the building and an L-shaped layout allows people to flow freely through the hospital. The heart of the building is its garden area, where the patients gather for activities and patient rooms have a view to this garden. Home garden plots were also incorporated into the design, so that patients and staff could benefit from a natural sensory experience. There are also many private areas where patients can seek refuge. The results of this new design are outstanding, as there has been a 44% decrease in the number of cases of belt restraints being used and a 21% decrease in the number of compulsory injections since the redesign.

Why not contact us for more information on how we can help create a truly biophilic environment for your facilities. Or download our latest e-book to learn more.

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