Designing for health: the integration of process and place

Barnes, M., 2004, Designing for health: the integration of process and place, in: OPENspace, ‘Open space, people space’, OPENspace, Edinburgh

  • Author : Barnes, M.
  • Year : 2004
  • Published in Book : Open space, people space
  • Abstract in English : ABSTRACT: The empirical research presented in this paper elucidates the connection between emotional restoration and the environmental settings specifically chosen by individuals to assist their healing process. Sixty-three subjects, aged 19 to 81, completed questionnaires containing both narrative and multiple-choice questions regarding the places they go when seeking solace in the outdoors, and how their emotions are affected by their surroundings. The findings indicate a high degree of consistency with previous studies in terms of the significant physical elements of the site (Francis and Cooper Marcus, 1991). The reported psychological aspects were analysed in relation to two theories within the discipline of environmental psychology. The first theoretical postulate focused on the degree of stimulation, or arousal level, of the environments in relation to the degree of arousal of the precipitating mood (Russell and Snodgrass, 1987). There was a modest general trend indicating that the subjects of this study selected environments that had a lower level of arousal than their precipitating mood, however, this tendency was not strong. Two patterns were elucidated by this analysis that were found to be helpful in defining what a ‘healing space’ is: 1) the diversity between individuals was demonstrated, and 2) perhaps more unexpectedly, the extent of the emotional complexity within each individual over time was marked. The second comparative analysis drew upon the body of research regarding emotional healing as experienced on wilderness backpacking trips (Kaplan and Talbot, 1983) and provided a more comprehensive understanding of healing as a process. Prior studies on meditation and the physiological relaxation response (Kutz et al, 1985) served to elucidate the common elements between organized therapeutic trips, and significant factors and mood changes reported by individuals in this study, who were seeking solace on their own, and in a variety of outdoor settings – ranging from museum courtyards and front porches, to wilderness areas. This study reveals that in both built and natural spaces, emotional healing involves a series of phases, each with its own set of psychological tasks, and each with its own set of environmental cues, which facilitate working through those tasks.The design implications of using this pattern of emotional recovery as an organizational structure for assessing and creating healing spaces are significant. Considering the process of emotional restoration as a series of component parts (the phases) can serve as a structure for setting design goals, and in turn can facilitate the incorporation of appropriate elements in the landscape. Design principals will be discussed.
  • Comments/Notes : KEYWORDS: emotional restoration, health, therapeutic landscapes, design guidelines. [paper 2 p.]