If you like this post, please share:

If you liked this post, please share:

Hey, did you know that the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) turned 100 years old last week?

Established on August 25, 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson, the NPS was formed to help protect and conserve natural scenery and historic objects, and to give the public a place to go to enjoy nature and history.

Today, the NPS covers more than 84 million acres and 412 sites, including parks, national monuments, battlefields, preserves, recreation areas, seashores, lakeshores, and more.

And while more than 305 million people visited national parks in 2015, I'd wager that most of us spend most of our days in buildings, cars, trains, and planes -- often very disconnected from nature.

Bringing Nature to Healthcare Facilities

But I'm happy to report that ever since I've been in the healthcare design industry, we've been talking about how to bring nature into hospitals, clinics, medical/dental offices, and residential care communities.

What started with very simple forms of nature artwork in healthcare facilities 30 years ago has expanded to include things like gardens, views to the outdoors, water features, virtual windows and skylights, nature programming, and more. Not to mention natural color palettes and patterns on fabrics, finishes, and materials.

One of the coolest new things for healthcare environments is dynamic white light that follows the 24-hour color and temperatures pattern of day and nighttime lighting. Experts say that more study is needed to prove its effectiveness, but as with everything related to nature, it makes a lot of sense.

Much More Than Artwork

So if healthcare designers started with Biophilic Design 101 all those years ago when they hung that first piece of nature artwork in a patient room, where are we headed now? We're still hanging nature artwork in patient rooms. But we're doing so much more.

A manufacturer who sells a different type of artwork for healthcare facilities recently pooh-poohed nature art to me, claiming that it had run its course.

I don't believe that for a second.  Nature is part of who we are as human beings. Plus, there's room for many different types of positive distractions in healthcare.

And there's definitely room for more than just nature art on the wall -- as we've seen with all the fabulous products that have been introduced over the years. As healthcare facilities become smaller and more high tech, the challenge will be to integrate access to nature with access to technology.

Want to Know More?

Check out these reports and articles:

"14 Patterns of Biophilic Design: Improving Health and Well-Being in the Built Environment," report published by Terrapin Green Design.

"What Is and Is Not Biophilic Design," article by Stephen R. Kellert in Metropolis.

"Tuneable White Light: New Illumination Technologies Add to Patient Comfort and Well-Being," article by Lauren MacLeod, in Health Facilities Management.

Photo Credit:  Rocky Mountain National Park, ©Healing HealthCare Systems.

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Leave a comment

Jerry Smith

8 years ago

Another great article on highly relevant topics! Thank you once again for sharing your well written and well documented insights, Sara!

Charles Straka

8 years ago

Informative article on a very important subject matter. I hope with the advancement of Biophilic Design we will avoid the architectural and design theories which led to the built environment's disconnect from nature and natural processes in the first place. Then, artwork can be used as intended; to compliment, and remind. Not substitute.

The strategic application of Biophilic Design can ensure that our natural surroundings remain as accessible as possible, lessening the need for artificial reminders, and Biophilic engagement systems. There is nothing like the real thing.

Liz Manley/ Picture This Corporate Art LLC

8 years ago

I was one of those hanging nature scenes all those years ago but I've always wanted to put large ,window size screens in patient rooms with a selection of high definition scenes that the viewer could select. It would be like a window looking out onto: the sea, a lake a field of wheat, a mountain or garden.
Whatever s/he was familiar with or loved. Essentially, a window of/to life.

Sara Marberry_013-Retouched-New copy

What's my story? I'm a healthcare and senior living design knowledge expert who writes and speaks frequently about trends and issues affecting these two industries. I'm also a strategic marketing consultant and content creator, working with companies and organizations who want to improve the quality of healthcare and senior living through the design of the physical environment. You can reach me at .

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