Healthcare / Quality improvement
European Healthcare Design 2019
The life, death and resurrection of wellness: enriched environments for activated optimal health
By Tye Farrow | 16 Aug 2019 | 0
Research has discovered seven known elements of enriched environments that simulate our brains’ biological and chemical operating systems. This presentation will review the physiological and psychological evidence for these seven elements.
Download the slides for this video presentation
Throughout human history, our attitude towards health and wellbeing has been holistic. We’ve focused on diet, lifestyle and, critically, on the physical design of our habitations. Over the last 100 years or so, this changed, with ‘health’ becoming synonymous with ‘healthcare’.
Now, however, that reactive model of treating illness instead of creating wellness is shifting towards a more preventive, proactive and technologically driven model. One of the core dimensions of this is ‘activated optimal health’, a concept driven by space. A growing body of evidence shows that where one lives has more impact on one’s health and wellbeing than the medical system. Space is effectively a ‘prescription’, which can improve our health or limit our ability to thrive.
Through design, we can connect the dots between psychological cognitive and pre-cognitive reactions that have physiological responses. We can create ‘enriched environments’ that enhance human performance through specific spatial fundamentals, both cultural and causal, and thus support optimal health.
Neuroscientists have confirmed that our built environments can alter and enhance our capacity for thought and social engagement.They can either heighten or suppress our emotions and behaviour.
Research has discovered seven known elements of enriched environments that simulate our brains’ biological and chemical operating systems. They’re known to improve health, as measured though neurological, physiological, psychological and sociological feedback. These elements include:
- Nature: places inspired by natural shapes, light and materials;
- Variety: spaces that offer a range of experiences and a sense of discovery;
- Vitality: settings that are energetic and restorative;
- Authenticity: spots that are valued for their realness and rootedness;
- Optimism: environments that radiate a positive abundance;
- Sense of occurrence: venues where you feel engaged and stimulated; and
- Legacy: surroundings that communicate purpose and a sense of something bigger.
This presentation will review the physiological and psychological evidence for these seven elements. Several examples of healthcare projects from across different geographical and cultural boundaries will be referenced.