A sense of calm

James Forryan
Wednesday 06 May 2009

New facility breaks away from the institutional

Is it possible that architecture can actively contribute to the healing process within psychiatry and mental health care?

This was the question White Arkitekter were faced with as architects and which had already been answered by the users with a rhetorical yes. In an intense dialogue with the management and the workgroups, the architects aimed to achieve a free and open atmosphere by giving the buildings a friendly, respectful and welcoming character where the security aspects are always present but are never allowed to characterise the environment.

Normality has been the keyword when the architects tried to work their way away from institutionalisation. The possibility to choose between solitude and social interaction has been made possible by single bedrooms and small patient units with adjoining common rooms. The patients can gradually increase their personal space. All the care units have direct contact with a courtyard garden space which contributes to an increased sense of freedom and offers the recreational powers of nature.

The facilities consist of nine care units providing in total 120 bedspaces.The gross area is 18.800 sqm.The building received Forum for Healthcare Building Research’s Healthcare Award 2007. An evaluation, funded by ARQ – The Foundation for Architectural Research, show that physical restraint techniques such as sedation and mechanical restraint have been reduced by a third and almost halved in numbers respectively. The staff’s experience of threat and violence has been significantly reduced as has their sick leave.

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