Aligning the Design Intent with the Actual Use of a Healing Garden in a Pediatric Hospital

Jun 14, 2017

The combination of an increased value placed on quality of life and hospital satisfaction with the known health benefits of nature have fostered healing gardens to become a standard programmatic element in hospital design.

Given the complex relationships between health and habitation, program and occupancy, healing gardens would benefit from greater study and research. This research observed use patterns of a healing garden located adjacent to the third-floor oncology unit of a pediatric hospital in Portland, OR. Use patterns recorded through observation and behavior mapping include user group, length of stay, and activity. Additionally, weather data taken onsite was correlated with use patterns to better understand the impact of temperature, relative humidity, and light levels.

Some findings in terms of healing garden use are concurrent with past research from literature reviews while other findings are not. While this particular healing garden is successfully used for longer durations than those found in the literature review (despite only being accessible from an upper floor), many aspects of this healing garden are not used as envisioned by the design team for a variety of reasons outlined in the paper. This research serves as an initial set of data to inform design decisions to improve the quality of life for patients, providers, and visitors.

keywords: Healing garden, Research-based design, Post occupancy evaluation, Design intent

Kalina Vander Poel (Portland State University)
Corey Griffin (Portland State University)
Presented at: 
ARCC 2017 Conference – Architecture of Complexity (Salt Lake City, UT)
Published & professionally reviewed by: 
Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC)
University of Utah

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