The operating room should include healthy material choices, recycled materials that provide warmth in a sterile area, and technology that allows for more sustainable practices.Taylor Design
Where Experiential Design Meets Sustainability
In healthcare facilities, binging sustainability to bear on experiential design practices boosts the benefits of both strategies.
Multiple studies have established that an attractive and soothing healthcare environment can have a positive effect on healing. This extends far beyond simply having an attractive view out a large window, or the streaming sunlight that goes with it. A higher aspiration is to create a comfortable, serene space populated with natural elements that contribute to the tranquility.
The materials selected should be warm, comforting, and should plainly communicate that they were responsibly chosen for their sustainable attributes. A bamboo patient blanket branded with the hospital name is one example. Another would be plaques that greet patients, visitors, and staff, informing them about the composition of design elements and where they were sourced. Immersive rooms could feature multimedia presentations about the hospital’s corporate responsibility policy or construction process.
A truly healing space should also offer user choice and customization through sustainable material selections and technology. An example is a tunable LED light fixture that can emulate natural light while automatically changing color to match the circadian rhythms of our sleep patterns. Other examples include adjustable exterior shades, customizable views on in-room screens, bed linens made with sustainable and renewal materials, well-supported renewable energy programs, and user informational campaigns.
As appealing as these features are today, they will grow in importance. Anecdotal evidence suggests that millennials and other post-boomer generations — who will soon comprise the majority of patients, doctors, nurses, and designers — are more concerned than their predecessors that the places they frequent promote green practices. This population demands a low-waste lifestyle, and to reduce their carbon footprint. They also want a place that feels like home, where they have control.
In implementing experiential design, architects and interior designers cannot lose sight of the sustainable practices that should run through the entire project process. In fact, the experiential design piece can serve as a catalyst to a heightened level of green and an affirmation of the organization’s attention to responsibility.