Bare, white and windowless spaces abound in healthcare settings, but research shows that isolation from the world works against the healing process. Some hospitals have embraced artwork, walls of glass, calming color palettes and natural materials to bring the outside in.
The reflection and incorporation of nature in constructed spaces is the philosophy behind the architectural principles of biophilic design.
According to Bob Gesing, national healthcare practice leader and principal at the architecture firm Trinity:NAC, hospitals everywhere need to implement it to improve patient experiences.
The style is clearly visible at Newport (Washington) Health Center, which Gesing and associate principal Bill Rash designed ahead of its construction in 2016. The 18,000-square-foot facility, in a rural part of the state, features two stories of glass, skylights, stonework and exposed timber sourced from the area.
“Newport is a critical-access hospital. They’re not rolling in dough. To instill the principles that you would see at Cleveland Clinic or a major health system, but doing it at a scale and cost where it doesn’t break the bank, is an important story to share,” Gesing said. “It’s been extremely well received.””