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DAMPA Clip-In Custom Tile installed in the Mærsk Tower
DAMPA Clip-In Tile installed in Aabenraa Hospital
DAMPA Clip-In Tile installed in Aabenraa Hospital

What is Healing Architecture?

If you have been involved in the healthcare or architectural sector in recent decades, you have likely heard the term healing architecture. In this article, we take a look at healing architecture and the principles behind it.

Healing architecture, as the name suggests, goes beyond the functionality and aesthetics of buildings. It is a tool that can promote health and well-being among the users of the buildings.

We will explore what healing architecture is, the principles behind it, and how you can apply healing architecture in your next project.

What is Healing Architecture?

Healing architecture is the idea that architecture affects human well-being and can promote better welfare for individuals. This concept extends beyond the patient’s healing process to include the experiences of staff and relatives within the space. The fundamental idea of healing architecture is to create a built environment that supports physical, mental, and emotional healing.

The Center for Health Design describes healing architecture as:

…the creation of environments that are designed to promote the improvement of health outcomes through the integration of evidence-based design principles.

When discussing healing architecture, we consider not just the design but also aspects like the quality of daylight, the atmosphere of the space, colours, sounds, and the provision of privacy and security, all of which can support physical and psychological healing.

A Historical Perspective

The principle of healing architecture has deep historical roots dating back to ancient Egypt, where temples and palaces were designed with a focus on harmony and balance. In Greece, healing temples were built in scenic surroundings. This principle evolved, particularly during modernism, when architects like Le Corbusier and Alvar Aalto began incorporating healing principles, emphasizing light, air, and nature.

Today, healing architecture has become a more systematic and research-based discipline.

Key Areas in Healing Architecture

Healing architecture is a broad field encompassing many areas that can be optimized to create a healthy and healing environment. We will look at five key areas that can be optimized to create a healing environment:

  1. Bringing Light and Nature Indoors
  2. Good Indoor Climate and Ventilation
  3. A Comfortable Acoustic Environment
  4. Colours and Materials
  5. Art

Under each key area, we will examine how it affects our health and well-being and the strategies you can use to optimize for healing architecture.

Key Area 1: Bringing Light and Nature Indoors

One of the primary focuses in healing architecture is natural light and views of nature.

Natural Light: Natural light plays a significant role in regulating our circadian rhythm, improving our mood, increasing productivity, and reducing fatigue. It also helps reduce stress and enhances overall well-being. Natural light enters buildings through windows. To optimize daylight, focus on placing large windows, skylights, and glass doors to maximize daylight intake. It’s important to ensure a uniform distribution of light and minimize glare.

Nature: Providing views of natural landscapes has a calming effect and contributes to mental healing. It can also improve concentration and reduce anxiety. Ideally, buildings should be near parks, gardens, or other green spaces. If this is not possible, focus on other key areas within healing architecture and create this effect through colour and material choices.

Key Area 2: Good Indoor Climate and Ventilation

A good indoor climate and proper ventilation impact patients, visitors, and staff. This area focuses on air quality and temperature control.

Air Quality: Good air quality is essential to prevent respiratory problems and allergies. Clean air can also improve cognitive function and reduce absenteeism. Good air quality can be achieved through both mechanical and natural ventilation. We recommend diffuse ventilation as it avoids drafts and noise, and ventilation can occur through perforations in ceiling panels to prevent unwanted disturbances.

Temperature Control: A stable and comfortable temperature improves comfort and productivity in patient rooms and workplaces. There are many ways to ensure good temperature control. DAMPA® Climate Ceiling, which operates on the principle of radiant heating, can be adapted to the individual in the room.

Key Area 3: A Comfortable Acoustic Environment

Good acoustics are crucial for concentration and well-being and can reduce stress and absenteeism. Acoustics play a crucial role in our environment, but it is often only when we find ourselves in a room with poor acoustics that we truly notice its impact.

The most effective way to ensure good acoustics is to invest in an acoustic ceiling. If post-construction adjustments are needed, acoustic wall panels can provide a quick and easy solution.

Read more about the different ways to improve acoustics in this article. 

Key Area 4: Colors

Colours have a strong psychological effect on us. They can influence mood, stress levels, and energy levels. Different colours can be used strategically to elicit desired emotional and psychological responses:

  • Blue and Green Shades: These are often calming and relaxing, ideal for areas where peace and concentration are needed.
  • Yellow and Orange Shades: These colours stimulate energy and positivity, suitable for areas where activity and social interaction are desired.
  • Neutral Colors: Colors like grey, beige, and white can create a sense of order and cleanliness.

Our acoustic solutions in metal can be supplied in all RAL and NCS colours, providing many options to create the desired colour scheme for your project.

Read more about the many design possibilities here.

Key Area 5: Art

Art plays a central role in healing architecture by creating environments that promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Art can reduce stress by providing visually pleasing and calming experiences. Nature images, in particular, can lower blood pressure and reduce stress hormone levels. Art can also stimulate positive emotions, enhance mood, and offer visual interest and engagement.

With the metal surface of our ceiling and wall solutions, we can play with digital printing to create the exact expression you want on our acoustic solutions. Whether it’s a lush green forest on the ceiling, cute animals on wall panels in a children’s area, or a picture of a flower meadow, we can create the image you want.

Read more about digital print here.

Is Healing Architecture Only for the Healthcare Sector?

While healing architecture focuses on health and well-being, it is a design philosophy and practice often seen in the healthcare sector, where architecture actively influences the healing process. However, healing architecture can be applied in many other industries to enhance user and staff well-being.

Examples include:

  • Educational Institutions: Designing learning environments that promote cognitive function, reduce stress, and create safe, stimulating spaces for children and young people.
  • Offices and Headquarters: Focusing on sound and good acoustics to improve productivity and well-being. Creating quiet and relaxing areas where employees can take breaks and reduce stress.
  • Transport and Infrastructure: Creating pleasant and stress-reducing waiting areas and designing stations that promote a relaxing travel experience.
  • Hotels and Culture: Design that promotes relaxation and well-being with good ventilation and stylish interiors, and creates spaces that encourage tranquility, concentration, and social interaction.
  • Prisons and Rehabilitation Centers: Creating humane environments that promote rehabilitation and mental health by designing light-filled and spacious areas.

Takeaways

  • Healing architecture promotes health and well-being by creating built environments that support physical, mental, and emotional healing.
  • The principles of healing architecture date back to ancient Egypt and Greece and have evolved into a more systematic and research-based discipline.
  • Five key areas of healing architecture are light and nature, a good indoor climate, a comfortable acoustic environment, colours, and art.
  • Natural light regulates circadian rhythms, and improves mood and productivity, while views of nature have a calming effect and contribute to mental healing.
  • Air quality and temperature control are essential for preventing respiratory problems and improving cognitive function, as well as ensuring comfort and productivity.
  • Good acoustics improve concentration and well-being and can reduce stress and absenteeism. Acoustic ceilings and wall panels are effective solutions.
  • Colours influence mood and energy levels. Blue and green shades are calming, while yellow and orange shades stimulate energy and positivity.
  • Art reduces stress, improves mood, and promotes engagement and creativity, providing emotional support and creating a sense of security.
  • Healing architecture is not only for the healthcare sector but can be applied in educational institutions, offices, transport, hotels, and cultural institutions, as well as prisons and rehabilitation centres.

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