Entwurfszeichnung des Herlev-Hospitals

A look at the greenery demonstrably increases the sense of well-being. This can be all the more important when you are ill. The design of hospital rooms has a direct influence on the healing process - as do structural and organisational factors. A new approach to this is "Healing Environment": a holistic concept that increases the well-being of patients by reducing stress factors, thus positively influencing the healing process.

A child born in Germany today has a life expectancy of around 80 years. And medical progress must keep pace with demographic change. This has been causing a boom in the healthcare sector for some years now - and with it the fact that healthcare architecture must face up to the changed challenges and adapt to the latest medical science findings.

"Healing Environment" has become a central theme in this context. The approach considers the interrelationships between structural-functional milieu design, the psychological and physical condition of the patient and the costs of medical operations. One example: At Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, a part of a building dating from the 1970s was converted to house a premature infant ward. New family rooms were created, which allow newborns to be permanently with their parents. Previously, mothers and babies, who have to lie in special incubators, were accommodated in different rooms. After the reconstruction, even extremely premature babies (24th-28th week of pregnancy) could lie with their mothers just four hours after the caesarean section and experience the direct skin contact that is so important. A series of family-oriented care measures and components were developed and implemented around the spatial reorganisation.

Empfangshalle mit Glasdach des Herlev-Hospitals


Proven positive effects

The effects of this redesign are astonishing: scientists examined about 180 babies accommodated in the newly designed station and compared the results with those of 180 babies cared for under the old model. The new ward shortened the stay in the intensive care unit by more than ten days - and the mortality rate was lower. The premature babies gained weight faster and the families coped better with the extreme situation. It was only the reorganisation of the rooms that made the new family model possible. And the example shows that investments of this kind can quickly pay for themselves from an economic point of view, as the length of stay in the expensive intensive care units is shortened.

Nature makes healthy

More and more projects show that even large-scale architectural design according to the principles of the Healing Environment can succeed. The extension of the Herlev Hospital in Herlev, Denmark, which has been under construction since 2014, is based on a convincing concept, namely the fact that stays in nature have a demonstrably positive effect on the healing process. The renowned Danish architectural firm Henning Larsen Architects has designed circular building sections for the extension, which sit on a right-angled, staggered structure to create inviting outdoor areas. The new extension contrasts with the 120-metre high existing hospital tower through its small scale. The individual tower, which offers no accessible outdoor spaces, is thus transformed into a coherently conceived structure that offers a range of different structural elements and exciting outdoor areas - like a small village through which one can easily move. The extension's dimension of 52,000 sqm gross floor area remains considerable, but comes close to a human scale due to the differentiated division into individual volumes and the resulting courtyards and gardens.

Architekturmodel des Herlev-Hospitals

Focus on the individual

The new green heart of the complex, which is directly adjacent to the tower, together with the many green courtyards and (roof) gardens, creates a life-affirming, energy-giving atmosphere that appeals to all the senses: water plays a central role here in the form of water surfaces and pools or as mists. Patients benefit significantly from staying in the outdoor areas themselves - as well as from the views of the green paradise from the patients' rooms. In this way, the groundbreaking hospital building is transformed on many levels into a sensual experience in which the individual is noticeably at the centre - patients, relatives and employees alike.

Holistic approach

The approach of the Healing Environment is complex and is based on the empirically proven knowledge that patients are exposed to various risks and stress factors during their hospital stay which have a negative influence on their recovery. Organisation and attitude in diagnosis and therapy play a major role, as they influence the patient's freedom from pain and fear. A central aspect is the structural-functional milieu surrounding the patient. Thus, the first impression of an emergency room can have a lasting effect on a patient's opinion of the hospital. It is particularly important for children and young people that the design of the rooms reduces anxiety and thus stress.



begrünter Innenhof des Herlev-Hospitals


The patient participates

Emma Children's Hospital impressively demonstrates how emotional functionality can be achieved in the planning and design of hospitals, providing patients and their families with important support. And last but not least, the hospital staff benefit from an attractive and positive working environment. If one looks at the large scale, it becomes clear that architecture for the health care system must also become more flexible in the future: With lightweight systems or modular construction methods, the hospital is given the opportunity to grow or shrink. At the same time, alternative medicine demands other clinic models, from which new typologies for practices and clinics will emerge.

From an international perspective, the requirements for a "Healing Environment" are different: While in Germany the focus is on sustainable and energy-efficient construction methods, in Japan individual hygiene requirements and the dignity of the patient are at the forefront. Here, the main focus is on maintaining privacy and the freedom to regulate heat, air supply and lighting.

The effects of holistically conceived and human-oriented planning and design, on the other hand, do not vary: a faster healing process, shortened lengths of stay, reduced costs for health care operations and higher compliance on the part of the patient are at the forefront everywhere.




Außenansicht Herlev-Hospitals

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