Healing environments: convergence of biophilic design and patient recovery

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Underwood, Landon
Koester, Bob
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Thesis (M. Arch.)
College of Architecture and Planning
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Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are where humans can experience some of the most harmful and invasive surgeries and treatments, yet the only remedy that has been concocted to address human recovery and healing is the use of very addictive and dangerous opioids and narcotics. In order to combat this crisis, the architectural and medical professions are finally beginning to push towards creating healthier environments through the integration of biophilic design. Biophilic design offers the ability for our surrounding environments to reflect, mimic and even integrate nature back into our lives, creating not only spaces that humans can perform well in but also spaces that offer a multitude of health benefits. The goal of this thesis inquiry is to push forward that research through the interrogation of shortcomings found in the current standards used to design state of the art hospital settings while also understanding how the patterns of biophilic design can help establish a new design framework for creating healthier hospital spaces. This process will begin by evaluating the combination of design strategies and considerations used for designing patient recovery spaces. This will determine where the design could incorporate a collection of the 14 patterns of biophilic design. The principles behind these patterns will also be reviewed and examined in order to create a framework that describes different ways the patterns can be applied to the space. From here, these elements will be set up to be tested through the application of virtual reality (VR) and BIM software and reviewed by a collection of doctors, nurses and patients in order to measure the overall effectiveness of this new design standard. The testing conducted during this review process will be measured through the HEART design evaluation matrix, which measures the happiness, engagement, adoption, retention, and task success of the different elements of biophilic design when they are applied to the space. This will ultimately create a new design standard that not only describes the different ways biophilic design can be applied to patient recovery rooms but also serve as the foundation for creating healthier hospital spaces aimed towards improving patient recovery.