14 Dec Is a Hospital Room with a View Enough of a Connection to Nature?
The evidence-based studies of Roger Ulrich beginning in the 80’s have proven that having a window with a pleasant view in a hospital room makes a positive difference in a patient’s outcome. When provided this connection to nature, the patient needs less medications, recovers faster, has less pain and gets discharged quicker. Ulrich’s studies determined that nature influenced the healing process.
Similarly, in Christopher Day’s book “Places of the Soul,” he concurs that nature plays an important part in someone’s healing, but defines nature as a place that feeds the spirit; it’s not just a room with a view. He emphasizes the importance of incorporating nature and nurturance into the built environment, such as hospitals, clinics, or medical facilities.
In Day’s words, it’s one thing to cure someone—it’s another to heal them. One is a physical process, the other is a spiritual one. A truly integrative space addresses both the physical and the non-physical aspects of an environment.
Stephen Kellert, author of “Building for Life,” likewise underscores the importance of creating a habitat for people that satisfies the need for beneficial contact with nature. Kellert is part of the movement that supports Biophilic Design which specifically focuses on incorporating the spirit of nature into an environment– -it’s rhythm, poetics, texture and balance.
The Biophilic approach asserts that a patient is not touched just by decoration or aesthetics, design perfection or efficiency, but by having a sense of comfort.
To integrate this Biophilic perspective, a medical facility could include:
- Home-made quilts on each bed;
- Hand-crafted mugs for the patient;
- Tactile artwork that can be touched;
- Home-made pillows for the family area.
In one Integrative Spaces project for a hospital that I have been involved in, hand-made bird feeders made by a local elementary school were installed outside the first floor windows so each patient had a front-row view witnessing nature at work.
It seems like there isn’t much doubt that nature is a contributor to a person’s healing. I teach the concept of using nature as a model at the Wind & Water School of Feng Shui, because the principle is integral to the design of an integrated space, hospital or not.
Creating an environment that speaks to the soul of the patient enables them to heal from within, not just physically.