Lisa Wänström is an architect with 15 years' experience specialising in care home architecture. Together with her colleagues at Semren & Månsson's care studio, she creates healthcare and nursing environments which provide patients and residents with positive distraction.

What is evidence-based architecture?

The term evidence-based architecture, or evidence-based design, is based on measurable knowledge of the significance of architecture in a good healing environment. We work a lot on what is known as 'positive distraction'. Research shows that healthcare environments with certain features can help to reduce stress, anxiety and pain, which can accelerate recovery and reduce the need for painkillers. Positive distraction can be achieved, for example, by providing views, preferably of nature, or by placing greenery in the room. It is also important to provide daylight since it helps to maintain circadian rhythms and good sleep. Good art is another good example of positive distraction, but it is important what you choose – art should not contribute to raised anxiety.

How do you create healing spaces?

I work a lot on positive distraction. Good, beautiful and natural materials which give a sense of wellbeing are also important. The spaces should stimulate movement, corridors should be laid out so that residents have a fine view and the stairs are designed so that they are attractive and comfortable to move around.

How do you think healthcare and nursing environments should be furnished?

This type of environment is complex, since many technical requirements, for example fire protection and infection control, affect the design of the space and the furnishing options. The earlier interior design and furniture are involved in the process, the better. Furnishing at a later stage will, of course, not be as good. Sometimes I also think that unnecessarily bulky furniture is chosen just because it's a healthcare environment. But it doesn't have to be like that. There's plenty of sturdy, ergonomic furniture available in beautiful and inclusive designs. In my experience, entrances and corridors are often forgotten. There are great opportunities here to make the healthcare environment more inspiring. The staffroom is also very important. Here there is an opportunity to create a patient-free zone where staff can relax and do administrative work. Also, remember to add greenery outside the residence. Often, a landscape architect is only called in to work with an allocated area after everything is finished. Engage a landscape architect from the very start!

"Good spatial environments can reduce anxiety and pain."


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