A Queensland architecture firm has received international recognition at the European Healthcare Design Awards for its approach and mentality towards designing for human health.
Brisbane-based Conrad Gargett was shortlisted for ‘Design Research’ at the award’s event held in London this week, and highly commended for a research paper on their commissioned project, Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital.
The research paper Normalcy in healthcare design: An extension of the natural and built environment outlined the case for biophilic and people-centred building design in healthcare settings to improve in patient experiences, treatment and wellbeing.
Co-authored by Conrad Gargett Principal Landscape Architect Katharina Nieberler-Walker in partnership with Griffith University and QUT, the research focused on Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital (LCCH) healing gardens.
“The definition of a healing garden is generally agreed to be a nature-oriented space designed to provide restorative, therapeutic or rehabilitative potential,” Ms Nieberler-Walker said.
“In this research, we explored and expanded upon various design considerations for reducing stress and confusion, as well as providing a sense of normalcy in what can be a very challenging time for patients, patient families and staff.”
The research explored how the inclusion and design of gardens and green spaces in healthcare facilities could reduce stress for staff, patients and their families, while helping to expedite recovery times for patients by ‘normalising’ hospital environments.
The design of each garden drew extensively on emergent evidence-based findings about the therapeutic and sustainability properties of integrated gardens.
Ms Nieberler-Walker said she believed the role of green infrastructure in hospital buildings in promoting normalising environments was a topic not yet fully investigated.
“Preliminary evaluation of the LCCH healing gardens provides much needed evidence of design considerations for healing gardens that contribute to both their ability to improve patient experiences and wellbeing, as well as the sustainability of these spaces,” she said.
Incorporating healing gardens into healthcare settings is an example of biophilic design, which could loosely be described as nature informing the function of architecture. In healthcare, biophilic design inserts gardens, or nature, into clinical spaces to create a sense of ‘being away’ from the hospital.
Ms Nieberler-Walker said having 11 gardens throughout the children’s hospital offered various opportunities to access nature as well as natural light while allowing time away in nature to help re-establish a person’s capacity to pay attention.
“Whilst interest in, and the inclusion of, gardens in hospitals is increasing, there still remain few examples of rigorously researched and evaluated healing gardens that contribute to patient experiences and well-being,”she said.