Specifier Review
The rising value of well-designed outdoor spaces in healthcare

The rising value of well-designed outdoor spaces in healthcare

The past few years have very clearly shown how being outdoors is one of the simplest and most effective ways to help prevent virus transmission. But that is only one reason why there is a growing movement in healthcare design and architecture to make better use of outdoor spaces.

In addition to infection control, the strong therapeutic and wellbeing benefits of being in an outdoor environment have long been recognised. Academic research has shown that incorporating landscapes and attractive outdoor areas within healthcare estates can help with recovery and rehabilitation.

One leading architectural practice in the healthcare sector – HLM Architects – recently reported that it had seen a rise in the number of clients seeking to maximise the landscape available to them, centred around placing more emphasis on the health, environmental and economic value that this can add to their buildings.

It advocates “a closer connection with nature”, arguing that too many healthcare buildings are centred around courtyards and external spaces designed primarily to increase the flow of natural light into the interior – and not to actively enhance their surroundings or the experience of their users. With a carefully considered approach, these natural light goals can work in harmony with thoughtfully designed outdoor spaces, even in heavily built up areas.

The rising value of well-designed outdoor spaces in healthcare

These outdoor spaces can serve a number of purposes from therapy and treatment delivery, to socialising, exercise and encouraging more visual stimulation. And that can be beneficial for everything from acute mental health, critical care and oncology to dementia care and outpatient departments.

But what sort of features could typically be incorporated into an outdoor space to ensure its full potential is unlocked? Obvious first steps in line with biophilic design principles would be to introduce site-appropriate plants and trees in soft landscaping to replace a hardstanding, tarmac or paving, complemented with seating and other street furniture elements for patients and staff to use. Green roofs and living walls may also be integrated too, particularly where concrete and brick dominate an outdoor space.

One consideration that is often overlooked, however, is power connectivity to enable various types of equipment to be connected as and when required. This is becoming increasingly common in many different types of public and commercial outdoor spaces, including at tourist attractions, in public parks and gardens, in schools and in town centres or market places.

But how would this benefit a healthcare setting? It is ultimately about making a space more versatile. For example, you may have an opportunity to create a new courtyard with landscaping and a space for seating or socialising. In the summer, you may be able to add a food and drink stall to enhance the experience, and at colder times you may want to add electrically powered heaters to make the space usable for more of the year.

The rising value of well-designed outdoor spaces in healthcare

Adding power connectivity is simple when you design an infrastructure using on-demand power distribution units which are hidden and safely locked away either in the ground or within a bollard until they are needed. Pop Up Power Supplies provides three different types – a pop up or retractable unit, an in-ground unit or a power bollard.

All three have specific advantages, so the most appropriate choice will depend on the characteristics of the outdoor space in question and the anticipated usage and demand for the power sockets. And as each unit is manufactured to order, it can be configured suit. A total power supply of up to 125 amps is possible for an in-ground or power bollard unit and up to 600 amps for the pop up unit – and the unit can also provide a water supply too, which can be useful for grounds maintenance.

To find out more visit www.popuppower.co.uk.

Tel: 020 8227 0208