'Healing Architecture': A Study of Daylight in Public Hospital Designs in Malaysia

Jan 01, 2010

In the hospital building, where patients seek medical treatment and hospital staff provide continuous support, creating a healing environment is an imperative. However, it appears that the ultimate aim to create a healing environment is not given due attention by healthcare designers. Patients’ negative experiences of the existing physical environment of a hospital building describing as depressing, confusing, dull, little natural light, stressful, noisy causing sleep deprivation, anxiety, isolation and physical restraint were noted in many studies of the built environment. Most of these criticisms are also experienced by the patients in the case studies of hospital buildings in Malaysia, particularly on thermal (too warm) and visual (glare) discomfort. Therefore, the term ‘Healing Architecture’ is adopted to invoke a sense of a continuous process; creating an environment physically healthy and psychologically appropriate for patients’ well-being. A majority of the literature on the healing environment has reached a consensus that the physical aspects of built environment could contribute indirectly to the health outcomes of patients and staff in a hospital building. These include shorter length of stay, reduced stress and increased patients’ satisfaction. Among the physical aspects, daylighting is considered one of the most influential factors to achieve visual comfort contributing to a healing environment.

This thesis aims to explore daylighting performance of a four-bed ward by means of a parametric study of design variables in order to achieve the visual as well as thermal comfort in creating a healing environment. Conflicting issues of ‘physical to physical’ (e.g. daylight vs. solar heat gain) and ‘physical to psychological’ (e.g. daylight vs. undesirable glare) are analysed. With the theme of daylight and health, previous studies related to the factors of the physical environments in hospital buildings that influence health outcomes are reviewed. The physical factors affecting daylighting to achieve visual comfort are also analysed. Reviews of the project briefs of the completed public hospital buildings in Malaysia are also conducted and seven hospitals are selected as the case studies to investigate daylighting conditions of the existing four-bed ward environment.

Srazali Aripin
The University of Queensland
Published & professionally reviewed by: 
The University of Queensland

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