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The Children's Hospital, Denver, Colorado, United States

Friday 01 May 2009

Healing by numbers

copyright: Basil Childers / Zimmer Gunsul Frasca 
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Award Entry

Children's hospital utilises evidence-based design to create healing environment for kids and families 

Housing 270 patient beds, outpatient clinics, offices and research spaces, the 1.44 million SF hospital is organised around a central atrium that draws light deep into the structure and captures the facility’s whimsy and spirit. Part of the hospital’s “healing” art program, the atrium’s terrazzo floor depicts butterflies, snowflakes, fish and a variety of familiar shapes that runs across the entire space, creating a diversion and point of interest for patients and family alike.

Thought was also given to the amount, intensity and value of colours used throughout the hospital. Drawing on colour theory, five distinct colour palettes - consisting of various shades of green, violet, yellow, blue and turquoise - were developed and applied to appropriate program elements. For example, brighter palettes were utilised in areas like the atrium, cafeteria and clinic areas, while a more subdued palette was applied in the chapel, intensive care and respite areas. Similarly, colours like blue, beneficial for burn victims by its association with cool, refreshing water; or green, shown to relieve tension and lower blood pressure, were utilised where they would be most effective.

Similarly, with studies showing the benefits of bright light in reducing depression and agitation, improving sleep and circadian rhythms, reducing pain, and even shortening the length of stay in a hospital, natural light was maximised via windows, “light wells,” and interior roof terraces that bring light to patient rooms, corridors and staff areas.

Additionally, redesigned nursing stations, changes to the surgical and emergency departments, and vastly improved patient rooms resulted from information gathered both through patient and staff focus groups as well as from observations collected during a two week shadowing process at the old Children’s Hospital.

With respect to patient rooms, observations and feedback made clear crowding, lack of storage, and inadequate sleeping accommodations for parents were disadvantageous to healing. As a result, single patient rooms are organised into patient, family and caregiver “zones” to provide adequate space and minimise encroachment of space for clinical care functions. Additionally, in the spirit of family centered care, each room has sleeping accommodations for family members, plus adequate storage, a desk and data ports so families can comfortably stay with children. Separate family suits have also been included in the facility.

Key Facts

Status Completed
Value 0(m€)
Were you involved in this scheme?
Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects LLP

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