Human Design in Hospitals

Hospitals are certainly one of the most complex building types that architects design. Not many other buildings house life and death situations on a daily basis. Yet the technical design issues should not foreshadow the human design issues. People come to hospitals to cherish the beginning of life and deal with the end of life.  What are the design issues that can address the human side of the hospital environment?

Warm and Friendly Interior.

We continue to be amazed as we tour facilities for our healthcare clients at the preponderance of BEIGE. The lifeless color does nothing to warm the spirit or connect with nature. Provide a variety of color and natural materials.  Use the calming attributes of green and blue tones. We sometimes think beige is the color of choice because no one complains about it over a color. Don't let that be a reason for “beigeness.”


Many studies cite the benefit of natural daylight on the human experience.  "Cabin fever" describes that depressed feeling people get during the winter – greatly due to the lack of daylight. Open up spaces to the outdoors. Provide large windows in every waiting area. Windows along corridors, and especially at the end, whenever possible.


Patients are not typically feeling in control of their lives, and getting lost in a maze of corridors with poor signage and wayfinding adds to their dismay. Provide bright and legible signage. Remember, with the aging population, a larger font is a good thing. Create nodes that serve as a reference point on their travels through the hospital.


The staff can certainly enhance the human experience. Do they offer help when meeting someone in the corridor? Do they take the time to answer questions? This can make a big impact, especially in the smaller rural hospitals. HyVee has that slogan, "A helpful smile in every aisle," and we have all experienced it. It does make a difference.

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