THE IMPACT OF GOOD ACOUSTICS
Light, air, acoustics and spatial organisation are well recognised as essential elements when designers work on medical and healing facilities. This is because they have an impact on the treatment of body and mind. Now a wealth of information is available from Troldtekt, a leading developer and manufacturer of acoustic ceiling and wall solutions. This is available in an online series of articles which focuses on visions and practices opportunities and pitfalls within healing architecture.
Interestingly, the internationally acknowledged MIPIM Awards have in recent years started celebrating outstanding healthcare design. The award is an acknowledgement of the role architecture plays in healing and treatment of both physical and mental illnesses. The UK’s recent Mental Health Awareness Week also reinforces the severity of the issues around mental health.
Right design is especially critical for people suffering from mental illness or feeling unwell. According to Swedish architects White Arkitekter, a good example is their design for the Ostra Hospital psychiatric facility where traditional conventions have been replaced by an open and unrestricted environment characterised by tranquillity and light. The area is also not isolated from the rest of the building.
Another key aspect has been specifying superior acoustics, such as in the psychiatric ward in their design for the Södra Älvsborg Hospital in Borås. Recently shortlisted for the European Healthcare Design 2021 Awards in the Mental Health Design category, their starting point was that the architecture must cater for people’s need to feel safe and to improve their well-being. In designing the interior, the emphasis has always been on soft, round shapes (no sharp edges), while the colours strike a balance between providing stimulating sensory impressions and instilling a sense of calm. They say that the choice of materials, such as wood, also plays a key role because it adds warmth and naturalness.
“Sound is an environmental factor that we’re very careful to incorporate correctly in psychiatric buildings,” explains White architect Peter Johnstone. “Creating subdued and comfortable acoustics helps to counteract stress and anxiety that can otherwise be triggered by a noisy environment.
Apart from Sweden, international research shows that the therapeutic environment can be crucial to the treatment of mental disorders. In fact, research from Chalmers University of Technology proves that the right interior design, including perfect acoustics, can reduce both the use of physical restraint on psychiatric wards as well as the number of sick days among employees.
Founded on the Cradle-to-Cradle design concept, Troldtekt’s natural and inherently sustainable panels are available in a variety of different surfaces and colours and contribute positively to a building’s BREEAM, DGNB and LEED ratings. In addition to their high sound absorption and tactile surface, they offer high durability and low cost lifecycle performance. Available in various sizes and in four grades from extreme fine to coarse, the panels can be left untreated or painted in virtually any RAL colour.
Samples, case studies and technical guidance are available from tel 01978 664255 or Troldtekt.co.uk while the theme can be found at https://www.troldtekt.com/news/themes/healing-architecture