Design Impact Study

This study, commissioned by Plan & Projectpartners, has its roots in an earlier, comparative report produced by the European Health Property Network (2002), which examined some critical design issues in the field of health care architecture.

The 2002 report concluded that, while there must necessarily be common ground in the functional aspects of health care buildings, the focus on design issues varies considerably from country to country. This fact complicates greatly any attempt to make comparative assessments of the impact of health care architecture on patient outcomes, staff morale, and the expectations of the public. The final brief for this report, arrived at after high-level peer review, was to provide an answer to the question 'What is the relationship between design and context, and how does this impact on performance in health care environments?'

Essentially, the issue in play is that of quality. How do we agree upon common criteria for design quality in a hospital, a nursing home, or a community clinic? How should we evaluate and measure quality, and is it even possible to do so? If we can arrive at a set of factors that predispose health care projects to excellence of design, how do we make sure that these factors are clearly understood and widely disseminated?

This study concludes that answers to the above questions, and many others, are to be found in a dynamic, triangular relationship between care model, place, and the built response. If it is difficult or impossible to judge the impact and quality of one health care
building, set in a particular context and with its own unique set of users, against another, then perhaps we shouldn’t attempt to do so. Perhaps it makes more sense to find a common tool that allows us to judge a building’s success (or otherwise) in terms of itself, set against a background of the original brief and local culture, and with the aid of postoccupancy evaluation.

 Full report: Design Impact Study