A post occupancy evaluation of sustainability features in a small scale healthcare building
The government response to the need for greater conviviality and sustainability in hospitals has so far focused on ‘design’ through several initiatives, including a specific focus on the design of the building itself. The NHS now has specific targets for sustainability as well as an independent body set up to promote good design in hospitals . In Scotland, the NHS currently uses a tool known as “Greencode” for the evaluation of its estate in relation to key environmental performance indicators, and these are reported on an annual basis. At the same time, in England, CABE has prioritised the development of quality design in healthcare environments, most recently with a limited competition to explore ideas , and Architecture and Design Scotland, in relation to CABE, is taking a similar interest.
Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) provides a more detailed means of examining the performance of the NHS estate on a building-by-building basis. The highly successful CIBSE funded PROBE programme, which carried out POE on a number of different buildings, only examined one healthcare building. To date there has been no systematic evaluation and cross comparison of healthcare building typologies in Scotland, although there have been a number of important individual studies in England.
Work by Sheffield University has clearly established the link between good design and improved patient recovery times, demonstrating the importance of views to nature, good day lighting, natural ventilation and patient’s ability to control their environmental conditions. The findings have informed a revised version of AEDAT, the NHS tool for evaluating design quality in hospitals. At the same time, Charles Jenks, an architect with international stature, has pioneered a new healing typology, The Maggie Centre, which aims to give day-care patients precisely these elements and more.
In September 2003, The Dundee Maggie Centre, the first building designed by Frank Gehry in the UK, opened its doors to those diagnosed with cancer and seeking support. In response to this, The University of Dundee hosted a one day international symposium, “Breathing space”, at the same time, which generated significant discussion on the relationship between architectural design and cancer care.
The Maggie Centre movement has four main goals:
1. To lower the stress level of a patient;
2. To provide psychological support;
3. To help patients navigate the information-explosion on cancer;
4. To provide peace and striking environments with an important place for art and gardens.
There are currently four Maggie Centres open in Scotland, with ten more being developed in the UK. As bespoke and distinctive healing environments, they represent an alternative approach to the traditional cost-driven design of healthcare buildings by deliberately fore-grounding design as a key factor in promoting well-being.
The overall aim of this study is to provide a detailed POE of a small scale healthcare environment which can in turn inform the future design of similar typologies within the NHS.
The study has three key objectives:
1. To carry out an in-depth qualitative POE of users response to the Dundee Maggie Centre;
2. To carry out a technical POE of the building’s physical performance;
3. To develop a cross-evaluative methodology which integrates the qualitative and quantitative findings in relation to sustainable and quality design guidance, for use in a wider study of small scale healthcare buildings in Scotland.
By undertaking a pilot study of the Dundee Maggie Centre, it is hoped that it will be possible to refine a POE process that can then be applied to all Maggie Centres and the design lessons extended to other similar healthcare typologies. This study marks the first stage of this work.