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Start making sense: Applying a salutogenic model to architectural design for psychiatric care

Document Information:
Title: Start making sense: Applying a salutogenic model to architectural design for psychiatric care
Author(s): Jan A. Golembiewski, (Department of Architecture and Allied Arts, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia)
Citation: Jan A. Golembiewski, (2010) "Start making sense: Applying a salutogenic model to architectural design for psychiatric care", Facilities, Vol. 28 Iss: 3/4, pp.100 - 117
Keywords: Architecture, Design, Mental health services, Plant layout
Research paper
DOI: 10.1108/02632771011023096 (Permanent URL)
Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Purpose – This paper aims to look into the significance of architectural design in psychiatric care facilities. There is a strong correlation between perceptual
dysfunction and psychiatric illness, and also between the patient and his environment. As such, even minor design choices can be of great consequence in a
psychiatric facility. It is of critical importance, therefore, that a psychiatric milieu is sympathetic and does not exacerbate the psychosis.

Design/methodology/approach – This paper analyses the architectural elements that may influence mental health, using an architectural extrapolation of Antonovsky's
salutogenic theory, which states that better health results from a state of mind which has a fortified sense of coherence. According to the theory, a sense of coherence
is fostered by a patient's ability to comprehend the environment (comprehensibility), to be effective in his actions (manageability) and to find meaning

Findings – Salutogenic theory can be extrapolated in an architectural context to inform design choices when designing for a stress-sensitive client base.

Research limitations/implications – In the paper an architectural extrapolation of salutogenic theory is presented as a practical method for making design decisions (in
praxis) when evidence is not available. As demonstrated, the results appear to reflect what evidence is available, but real evidence is always desirable over rationalist
speculation. The method suggested here cannot prove the efficacy or appropriateness of design decisions and is not intended to do so.

Practical implications – The design of mental health facilities has long been dominated by unsubstantiated policy and normative opinions that do not always serve the
client population. This method establishes a practical theoretical model for generating architectural design guidelines for mental health facilities.

Originality/value – The paper will prove to be helpful in several ways. First, salutogenic theory is a useful framework for improving health outcomes, but in the past the
theory has never been applied in a methodological way. Second, there have been few insights into how the architecture itself can improve the functionality of a mental
health facility other than improve the secondary functions of hospital services.

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