What if interactive architecture could do more than just react to its occupants?

What if architecture was based on rules that could promote designated functions? In this light, architecture would be motivational and goal-oriented. Hospitals; for instance, would actually help patients to heal — instead of being cold and sterile, like so many hospitals we find today.

Adaptable architecture could help occupants have better experiences within buildings. For instance, within hospitals a rulebased architecture could help patients to do the following: • understand their treatment • reduce stress • decrease pain • engage in healing behavior Hospital rooms could tailor their interactions toward certain illnesses, recovery and patient types. In addition, adaptive architecture could help the medical staff do a better job, making less medical errors. Of course, patient control and choice is important — and adaptive architecture should make provisions for both as it promotes functions within.

Hospital designers should pay greater attention to acoustics within hospitals as noisy environments generate more stress for patients. So often. sleep is critical for patient recovery. For this reason it is nice to know that healthcare design is now getting more attention and making improved headway. 1) SENSE OF PLACE: In the paper. Vol 19 No 10.5ways Hospital Design Influences Patient Health • It is no secret that hospital patients are influenced by their surroundings. Care is being taken to use color. Color can help patients have a sense of orientation – where color is used to give different hospital areas a sense of place. hallways or patient private rooms can have a definite affect on patient motivation and stress levels. Christian. Is there a psychologist in the building?. Also. it is the patient that never gets their needs heard during the design process. 3) NATURE + ARTWORK: Hospitals that include nature and artwork are providing for more positive patient experiences.(1) 4) NOISE: A major problem within hospitals today is noise. Hospital design directly impacts patient health – in more ways than one might think. hospital layout is listed as quite an important factor for patients. Using the right colors in waiting areas. nature and wayfinding to ease a patient’s hospital stay. Going beyond simple signage. Both nature and artwork contribute to patients having a greater “sense of well-being” where spaces lend themselves toward contemplation and feeding the senses. October 2006. examination rooms. All in all. progress is being made to design better hospitals. Is there a Psychologist in the Building by Christian Jarrett. It has been found that having a sense of place helps keep patient stress levels down.(1) I’m sure you can imagine that private rooms also make for better visiting with patients and their loved ones. Providing private rooms reduces medication error and falling instances. The Phychologist.(1) 2) PRIVATE ROOMS: Also important to hospital design is the frequency of private rooms in a hospital. • • • • • • (1) Jarrett. hospital patients should be able to have a sense of their location without ever feeling lost. The following are five ways hospital design influences patient health – where care should be taken to improve patient recovery. Often patients cannot sleep through the night as medical carts screech through the halls and doors open and close. 5) COLOR: Use of color in hospital design has a multitude of uses. Much study and research is now underway to more completely understand what patients truly need. Also. . Today hospital designers are trying to evolve hospitals beyond their infamously sterile décor. color has been known to be associated with mood.

. Already. You see. (1) Instead of providing one computer per person. an interactive hospital would provide an array of computer embedded just about everywhere so information can travel seamlessly.What’s next for Hospital Design? A Ubiquitous Smart Space • • • • INFORMATION EVERYWHERE The hospital of the “future” is just around the corner. research is being done to create an “interactive hospital” (1) — also known as a ubiquitous smart space. hospitals deal with all formats of information that need to be accessible anytime and anywhere within the hospital. wherever and whenever it is needed. The first step for better hospital design is a shift in mind-set where computers need to be thought of differently — departing from the traditional “office-type” mentality.

architects can fine tune healing environments through the patient’s senses. ceilings. if designed well. By creatively integrating ubiquitous and interactive devices. The first step is for hospital technologies and environments to become interactive — helping the medical team to do a better job. improving things like their physiology and mood — important factors when it comes to healing. etc. it becomes possible for all kinds of medical devices to help with data and collaboration management.• • A PRO-HEALING ENVIRONMENT As ubiquitous computing technologies come together to make medical smart spaces. Here is a glimpse of how an interactive hospital might work: “We are working on prototypes for creating interactive walls. We envision a hospital where clinicians can approach interactive surfaces anywhere and carry on their work. more quickly. as well as embedding computers in hospital beds. pill containers.” (1) • The beauty of an interactive hospital is that. surgical tools. where the whole wall is one big interactive surface. and floors. . it can give the patient a much better healing experience. Some of these surfaces are small and handheld like PDAs (but are not personal). others are large like the one used in a radiology conference room.

an EPR. temperature. By maximizing the capabilities of the different medical devices found in the hospital. (1) Bardram. By fostering real-time collaboration between team members and optimizing the environment to promote safer and faster healing — hospitals will be taking a much needed step forward. Jakob E.g. the bed is able to log in the nurse. Furthermore. and it can display the relevant information on the screen. Centre for Pervasive Healthcare . Every bed is in itself a server containing various information about its patient and can be queried from e. typically the medicine schema from the EPR system.. ubiquitous and interactive devices can greatly help the medical team to do their job. check if the nurse is carrying the right medicine for the right patient. Here is a telling depiction of what an interactive hospital bed can accomplish: “For example. interaction designers can help with many of the problems and challenges hospitals face today — like medication errors. etc. can be attached to the bed and start using the onboard computer as a gateway to the basic infrastructure. when the nurse arrives with the patient’s medicine. Hospitals of the Future – Ubiquitous Computing support for Medical Work in Hospitals.” (1) In essence. various medical sensors measuring things like blood pressure.• • SAFER AND FASTER PATIENT RECOVERY It’s all about the patient and their recovery.

optimism toward healing. But for a recovering patient in the hospital who has been sick it can be a huge effort to go into the bathroom to engage in such activities. and general sense of “feeling better “as they start off and end their day? Thus.LIGHTING INTERIOR • Hospital Patient Room: Within a hospital postoperative recovery room. there are key places where lighting interiors can make a very significant difference in healing. there comes a point where it is important for the patient to engage in Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) — various grooming activities. . the lighting was poor? How do you think that would affect the patient’s mood. Now what if when looking in the mirror to groom.

SOLVING CONTRADICTION • • Timing is everything (well. find where they might interrelate — often. Often. This yields faster recovery and. but to meet individual patient needs at just the right time and in just the right way. whether they need it or not. help to meet just the right patient needs at just the right time in their healing process. but when it works. The secret is not to meet every patient need. you will uncover that the two are not as far apart as you once thought. what may seem to be a contradiction is really not. almost. • • • • . thus. less hospital cost since patients stay for less time. by getting to the root of each problem.) A great hospital design could. in fact. Instead of trying to solve two separate problems. The key is to fine tune your design so you can orchestrate not just how it works.

many hospital designs don’t place an emphasis on providing for an optimal waiting area — and that is really a missed opportunity. for instance. thus. within a hospital waiting room. • I have noticed that many waiting rooms incorporate televisions which play TV channels that patients can watch or listen to. Once a patient has gone through the initial phase of “checking in”. Unfortunately. this is a great idea — but what about those that don’t want to watch television.Using Design to Make the “Waiting Room” a Good Thing What Should People Do When They Wait? • How do you design for the function of waiting? Do your building occupants ever really wait? Typically. you can make what goes on inside a waiting room a great experience. In essence. then begins the often long and frequently boring wait. . • Take hospitals. For example. they move from one activity to another. It is important to realize that there is a difference between trying to distract a patient from boredom versus bombarding them with additional stressors. • Another tactic that would help patients endure those long “waiting periods” involves giving thought to the arrangement and ergonomics of where they sit. Comfort while waiting is key. • Just think of the things that could be accomplished and provided for patients. but it is equally important to also design for those in-between moments. particularly for hospital patients who might be in a great deal of pain. What happens during those “between” moments can really impact an occupant’s experience. soothing patient anxiety and stress. as a designer. particularly when a waiting room only broadcasts news or other intense shows. if only architects would give some serious thought to what patients actually need during this time. patients could get views of nature or be surrounded by calming colors and pleasing sounds — thus.

If not designed properly. For example. In reality. these areas could be your building’s weakest link — which could ultimately weigh down the success of your overall design. • • . what can waiting rooms do? They can serve as buffer zones.Waiting Rooms Can Also Serve Other Functions • • • • • So. Conversely. Don’t underestimate the challenge involved in designing a good one. waiting room areas can be an important link that makes your architectural design work more smoothly for your occupants. the design of your waiting room could be so successful that it becomes one of the strongest links in your design. hospital waiting rooms can serve all three of these functions at once. transitional areas or even learning places — as they receive occupants coming from one place and then prepare them to go into the next. your occupants may spend a lot of time in these zones. Here are some examples: provide patients with a place of comfort to sooth anxiety and stress give patients a feeling of safety (knowing they will be receiving quality medical attention soon) teach patients to come up with important questions while they wait (to ask their doctor once inside the ER) Thus.