Buildings' Soft Skills in Healthcare

In the exceptional situation of a stay in hospital or nursing home, in a state of weakness , we spend almost 99% of our time inside rooms. The relevance of stimulation is crucial and colors therefore take on a considerable importance in the design of health care buildings.

In the case of physical as well as psychological limitations, the stimulating design of the environment can even contribute to the activation of energy reserves inside the organism (see Meerwein G., Rodeck B., Mahnke F. H., 2007, Farbe: Kommunikation im Raum, 4th edition, Basel: Birkhäuser).

Depending on the pathology and needs, the amount of stimulation offered by the environment must be carefully weighed . On the color level, different color tones as well as differences in brightness, structure and material offer a variety of stimulation.

User groups with various needs

The three main user groups in health care are care workers, residents (on short or long term) and visitors. By using colors as Buildings’ Soft Skills, our approach in design becomes very much focused on the needs of the individual user groups, thus placing the human being at the center of the design. The need for beauty and aesthetics is as important as practical issues (e.g. visual ergonomics). For example, if we can orientate ourselves more easily through colors, we have more energy left for recovery, activity, care, etc. An aesthetically pleasing design with a fine tuning of colors and materials also sends signals of appreciation and respect to patients and can positively change their trust in doctors.

The study "Assessment of the psychological and medical effects of the environmental factors of colour and light on patients and personnel in intensive care medicine" shows the influence on well-being, health, work motivation and drug consumption. Significant improvements have been achieved through the conscious use of color on floors/walls/ceilings, improved light and the position of  beds.
(see Buether A. & Woebker G., 2019.)

This study provides an indication of the exponentiating effects of several Buildings’ Soft Skills used together, in this case: light and colors.
If we feel supported by different Buildings’ Soft Skills such as air quality, acoustics, color, light in our environment, we feel more comfortable and more relaxed. We will thus consume less energy and can therefore invest more in activities like "getting healthy", "staying active" or "dedicated care".

(previously quoted from the article ‚Farben im Gesundheitswesen‘ by Pia Anna Buxbaum, in the book "Gebäudesoftskills - neue Dimensionen im Bauen. Praxis - Wissenschaft - Kunst", published by P.A. Buxbaum, E. Oberzaucher. Announced for fall 2020)