The human being is used to the natural environment. To be healthy we need to be in touch with the nature, the sun, the fresh air.
In this sense at the moment to create a health centre it is important to consider this necessary connection between people and the natural environment, in a moment when health is impaired.
For this reason, landscape architecture in hospitals is an essential element of project that allows us to provide high added value to the environment by improving the welfare of patients and hospital staff.
In today’s article we make a review of the key elements of landscape design of a hospital and we detail the design options for each of the spaces involved in landscape architecture.
Landscape architecture design in hospitals
There are many aspects to consider when designing a garden or an outdoor space in a hospital. Let’s check the highlights.
The vegetation is the essential element of exterior design, not only as an essential part of the landscape but as a generator of healthy environments. The vegetation regulates moisture, filters harmful particles, collects dust from the environment and generates oxygen and shade.
It is therefore important to select good species and arrange them properly depending on the effect we want to achieve.
First of all, it is essential to avoid the use of allergenic, irritating or toxic plants, such as pampas grass or laurel flower, due to we are doing landscaping in health centres where health is a priority. In this sense it is preferable to use green plants, thereby to avoid an excess of flowers and to reduce the amount of pollen in the environment.
The selected species should be preferably locally sourced, for reaching a total adaptation to the environment. It is highly recommended the combination of evergreens with other deciduous and shrub species that require less maintenance.
Trees distribution also requires special attention because, if we have the trees in a line it will help us to emphasize a path, whereas if placed lower in small clusters species they can create cosy seating areas.
Water is an element that can give much life to a garden or interior space. It is widely used in landscape design in hospitals due to its relaxing effect sound, which helps to reduce stress and to improve the welfare of patients.
It can be designed as a specific element, like as a fountain, or marking a path along a pedestrian way, for example, by creating a small canal.
Besides the decorative and visual uses, we also need water to water the plants and the ground. In this regard we should not forget the possibility of the use of rainwater through collection on roofs and gardens that can direct the water to underground storage tanks.
Paths and pavements
Paths and pavements have an interest in contiguous areas of public access to the hospital.
In this case, the most striking aspect to evaluate is their accessibility, providing them with a generous width, protection elements, such as handrails, in the case of raised platforms and avoiding traffic impediments. Signage is a key element in any path, as well as lightning.
As for the flooring it is essential to design it non- slip, due to its exterior condition, durable and comfortable for any kind of shoes, wheelchairs or crutches condition.
The furniture will be of particular interest in the inner courtyards or gardens immediately connected to the outputs of the rooms and work areas, mostly used by the occupants of the hospital.
Its configuration aims to create spaces for socializing or more private spaces to sit and relax.
It is therefore interesting to consider different distributions, from isolated to more grouped seats, provided with vegetation and lighting according to their functionality. The selected materials are recommended to be soft and warm and ergonomic also plays an important role.
Finally, we would like to highlight the lighting in landscape design in hospitals. It is also a key factor that takes special importance in this type of equipment that operates 24 hours a day.
In this case, it is important to have both security lights and aesthetic lighting. Their arrangement is consistent with the role we want to fulfil.
In the case of security lighting it will be linked to the paths or hospital key locations, such as access or special attention areas, such as water fountains or vegetation.
Aesthetic lights can also accompany the paths, but they can also be arranged in the seating areas, with a warmer tone and a lower height, to accompany hospital users in their resting moments.
Types of exterior spaces
We must now consider in detail the main areas of the hospital according to the possibilities of landscape architecture and gardening.
Public access areas
First of all we will discuss the areas and paths connected to the hospital access. They have a key role as they lead users to the interior of the building. It is about outdoor spaces that communicate the health centres with public roads, or pedestrian ways.
In this case it is very important to raise appropriate non-slip flooring and good signage with clear indications. We cannot forget the lighting, since hospitals are opened 24 hours, or suns protection to create public seating areas, which will be used primarily by patients’ relatives.
Once inside the building it is very interesting to project common courtyards for all users of the hospital. They are relationship spaces and areas where patients and professionals can breathe fresh air and rest.
These places require a willingness and visual connection to the interior, as they can serve to illuminate rooms and give life and colour to health centres.
In its approach it is important to pay special attention to the vegetation, creating porches and seating areas and its strategic location as it is interesting to locate them near public areas or waiting rooms of the hospital, but relatively far away from areas or sectors that require specialized calm.
The therapeutic gardens are an increasing widespread concept in landscape design in hospitals. It is about landscaped and confined spaces specifically designed to provide comfort and physical, psychological and social benefits to all users of the hospital.
These gardens are designed to achieve a more relaxed and calm state of patients, thus stimulating the immune system, facilitating recovery state.
As they are familiar and natural environments it is promoted the relaxation and the emotional centres of the brain’s limbic system are restored.
In addition, the presence of plants and natural elements allows to retrieve the body balance and to reduce stress and tension.
In its approach it is important to consider the combination of plant species, as well as sounds or textures. Water, for example, can be very relaxing if its presence and path is controlled.
>>> Private terraces or balconies
Finally we would like to highlight the terraces or balconies of the rooms themselves, also very important for the relationship with the outside.
In this case, it is essential to assess which patients will have access to the outside, to design adequately the different sectors of the hospital.
It is about small-sized areas where visual control, security and accessibility take a very important role in its design and configuration.
By the elements and detailed types of exterior spaces, landscape architecture in hospitals affects very favourably in all the occupants of the health centres.
In the case of patients, they have improvements at a physical, psychological and social level, stimulating the immune system, facilitating recovery and restoring the emotional centres of the brain’s limbic system.
Workers also benefit from the existence of outdoor spaces by reducing stress and tension and having a place of disconnection of their working place.
For all these reasons from CASA Solo we want to emphasize our commitment to the landscape design in hospitals in order to ensure a pleasant and quiet stay for patients, families and health professionals.