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Therapeutic Architecture

Buildings, spaces between themmake different lives, influence how we think, feel,
behave-how we are (Christopher, 2002).
Many specialists of various fields, including sociologists, therapists and architects have
repeatedly argued about how place and the design of its spaces communicate with the human
psyche, affect the way in which people react to their lives and how they develop. And this
might be said to be rather crucial for any individual who requires long term constant care or
needs to recover from a period of physical, social and emotional instability such as the multifaceted break down and loss of self during any treatment or healing process. It is important to
note from the outset that architecture is not a treatment, but can most significantly become
part of the healing process through the creation of spaces that foster and provide meaning to
those activities utilized to achieve gradual rehabilitation through a therapeutic environment.
Light, colour and movement within a residence as well as landscape and location are essential
elements of this architectural therapy and the paper will seek to bring their relevance to the
..form and space can be insidious shapers of person and community or they can nourish and
spur development, both social and individual (Christopher, 2002).
It is a setting which readies for social inclusion and does not bunch up people as a group of
patients who simply need to take their medication or stay indoors for a prolonged period of
time but as active recipients of change and individuality. Not merely a number behind a
health facility door. Architectural design can provide the corner stone of this individuality,
with spaces built as an interactive process as opposed to holding a disorder within. As
Cynthia Leibrock puts it, even the little things in the design of a building can play their part in
the psychology of the healing equation; such as the way windows reflect the sunlight in a
therapeutic community residence.
The power of a healing environment comes from the design details that empower patients
to take responsibility for their own health (Leibrock, 2000).
Before delving into how building design can interconnect with the healing process and
activities in providing healing for individuals with long term problems, one must provide a
detailed outlook of the approach that can serve this type of architecture. And this is the

Therapeutic Architecture

concept; or rather the healing principle of the therapeutic community, a relatively recent way
of creating the sort of environment that allows the ill and diseased reformation through the
development of a team spirit in conjunction with ways of restoring their misplaced

Therapeutic Architecture

Therapeutic Community
2.1 The process of the Therapeutic Community
One of the most widely accepted definition of the therapeutic community is the 1993
Ottenberg thesis of an environment in which people live together in an organized and
structured way in order to promote change and make possible a free life in the outside
societythe community forms a miniature society in which residents fulfil distinctive
rolesdesigned to promote a transitional process
It must only be a foundation or facility in name. In essence, the therapeutic community should
become society away from society, a shadow of reality for those with the determination or
even so, the decisive push by family and relatives to rediscover and re-coordinate that inner
creativity self, the social and individual personality lost through illness. As argued, this type
of healing process, its residential philosophy aside (and this is where architectural design
comes in), does not usually apply to a fixed setting, but rather to the principles of the care
that is offereda communal approach which is also democratic, collaborative and
encourages participation ( OHara, 2010).
Thomas Main was the British psychoanalyst who coined this term in the 1950s, as the
response of psychoanalysis to the failure of psychiatry, incarceration programmes
which viewed addicts as mere criminals and stigmatized them as outcasts or even
mentally disturbed through abuse, as well as purely medication approaches. Strangely
enough though the therapeutic community model developed by Maine and other
analysts was based on a World War II experience in Britain, as army psychiatrists,
who had to deal with hundreds of traumatized soldiers returning from the front,
considered, in their desperation from the failure of the conventional medication or one
to one therapy approach, to apply a group method that would allow those who had
suffered severe distress to overcome their psychological fears and return to the front as
physically and emotionally healthy as possible.
Instead of medication treatment therefore, they provided the necessary tools to the community
of patients in dealing with their own problems, making them part of the process with which
they could overcome their traumatic experiences. As Crampling notes, this later became
known as the living-learning method. Maine took this and applied a psychoanalytic

Therapeutic Architecture

approach to it. Some later appropriately dubbed it social psychiatry. It formed the
beginnings of an attempt to consider rehabilitation as a psychological awakening through a
group environment, in which members (not patients) and experienced professionals interact in
a setting promoting trust and individuals are encouraged to become part of a community with
the goal of rebuilding their social skills, such as responsibility and integration. This
community philosophy essentially places the healing process into the hands of addicts
themselves in a controlled and voluntary but not institutionalized environment, finding
methods that allow them to rebuild their ability of dealing independently with their own
Many of those seeking or being encouraged by their environment to follow the
therapeutic community approach have gone through an extended period of social and
behavioural dysfunction, the substance problems gradually eroding-in spite of what
educational or professional capabilities they might have had-every sense of societal
responsibility, creating a situation whereby they need to essentially re-invent
themselves, develop integration skills and individual creativity. This is why this form
of residential therapeutic community involvesan internal hierarchy of jobs and
progressive responsibilities, and a variety of medical, educational, and vocational
services (OHara, 2010).
Architecture fits into this process, as the outer shell providing the necessary support to the
inner self-corrective therapy. There are of course no guarantees of success in such cases.
However, at least the connection of interior design and community spirit as a means of
moulding a socially functioning individual forms an alternative that puts the individual first,
as opposed to the medication institution like processes that have not managed to make any
headway, both in attracting the trust of addicts who make the step to rehabilitation, as well as
eradicating existing prejudices and public opinion views. The therapeutic community, as
referred to earlier in the paper is not about being locked in, but a home in which the individual
with the need for care, becomes part of the method of their gradual return to physical and
emotional health, they become involved in the decision-making process, improving their
creativity through the group. The basic premise is to become the change within themselves, to
sense that even though they live in a treatment community, the environment surrounding them
is one in which they feel not part of the problem, but part of the solution on their way to relearning the social process.

Therapeutic Architecture

Individual client members are involved in all decisions about their own care and treatment.
(OHara, 2010).
As heard in the 10th European Conference on Rehabilitation and Drug Policy, rehabilitation is
not about shutting the door of the world in the face of the addicts, but giving them the ability,
through sharing their life experiences to reach a glass door on their own, where they can see
social inclusion laying in the horizon.
for the suffering soul, world is healing (OHara, 2010).
2.2 The Fundamental Components and Basic Structure of Therapeutic Communities
Therapeutic communities, drug-free residential settings are primarily of a humanistic
philosophy in which the member gradually develops social group responsibility and a sense of
personal growth through structured activities but also the opportunity of more creative
expression such as theatre therapy, art, photography and prose writing that bring out untold
emotions and help the resident through this active self- help process, become aware of their
problems and finally come to terms with what brought them to that situation. The member is
forced to become part of their future, by developing on a daily basis individually and with the
group, having a daily routine, starting at seven in the morning, sharing and having a common
target, feeling responsible also through the choice of employment that can be provided at the
facility. For example many communities make their own furniture. Work is a means of
strengthening the sense of community and developing the communication and interpersonal
tools needed.
the therapeutic community movement holds a multidisciplinary view of health which is
based on ideas of collective responsibility, citizenship and empowerment (OHara, 2010).
The therapeutic community is usually at a distance from city centres where drugs are much
more accessible, (but not too far from the reminder of daily life-the sports facilities of the
Groot Klimmendaal rehabilitation centre in the Netherlands are also used by the general
public as a means for residents to feel social proximity) and close to the positive influence of
nature. Funding also determines the location of therapeutic communities. The ultimate aim is
for these residences to become a microcosm of real life, a placebo of a social situation,
whereby conditions proceed pretty similarly to a societal motif-providing solution to
situations that might come up through activities or assigned work, planning a schedule,
following necessary rules, having control over your life as well as realizing that the way one

Therapeutic Architecture

conducts themselves must be respectful to the group. Individual and group therapy sessions
are conducted daily, lasting more than an hour and offering the opportunity of openly
expressing emotions.
Problems and their solutions are discussed in the community before action is taken. The
discussion is regarded as a learning opportunity (OHara, 2010).
Based on the sociological approach of community as method, residents gradually learn,
through a hierarchical system, open communication and expressing themselves in the group
and through activities, to discard negative emotions and are taught to use the peer
community to learn about themselves, to change lifestyle and identity. As Alcorn puts it,
gradually building or re-building a new life, for which they are fully responsible, always
having in mind that professional monitoring is daily and reviewing of the communitys
progress is conducted at a regular basis to establish whether the residence is achieving its
goals of gradually creating new identities that are well on the road to physical and mental
rehabilitation and are, through work and activities inside the community, building new
positive strategies of dealing with their problems. Strategies that they will be able to put into
practice once they are able to face real social situations. Therapeutic communities
provide a combination of therapeutic involvements between residents and staff and living
in a caring and challenging community as the principal mediums to encourage change and
personal development (Cindy, 1997).

Therapeutic Architecture

Therapeutic Architecture
3.1 The Role of Architecture in Therapy
If drug addiction rehabilitation is mostly about bringing positive feelings to the fore and
helping to build a new identity for members of therapeutic communities, then architectural
design, is perhaps the most decisive of factors in how space is utilized, both in practical terms
and landscape wise, to uplift the spirit and provide the necessary environment in which
community daily life and activities can become most effective. Christopher Day believes that
buildings have the life the architect gives them, a personality that is either positive or
negative, and that aura is captured by those who reside in them.
The more felt are buildings, the more connected to rhythms of daythey value the
individuals they will houseenvironment can heal as well as harmplaces of spiritnourish
both individual and societ (Christopher, 2002).
Place is not simply a set of coordinates, but is constructed through finding meaning in the
social and built forms we inhabit (Christopher, 2002).
In other words, the building, a city and the way it is designed does not just form slabs of
concrete, but is literally a social construction, that can have an influence on those who reside
in it. As outlined earlier, this is truer of people, in this case, addicts who are in a process of
rehabilitation, a tough community healing programme that seeks to root out their negativity.
In such an instance, the energy and individuality their residence might project could be crucial
in how they respond to this process. Colour, they way they are able to move within the
building, staircases, connections between rooms, surrounding nature can all play a role, as
will be analyzed, not just in underpinning the mood of the residents, but also whether they
feel welcome in the building, whether it forms a connection to their emotions and physical
presence and by extension if it provides a motivation for them to follow the programme. A
rehabilitation centre in the Netherlands has left nothing to chance, paying particular attention
to natural but also artificial lighting as both aspects of mood and energy.
Natural daylight deep in the heart of the 30 metres wide building was allowed. The
interior was enlivened by interplay of striking but subtle colours and direct and indirect
artificial lighting.

Therapeutic Architecture

The same connections are made about colour, with Day pointing out that preference in this
case is highly personal. For the individual in a therapeutic community the slightest detail in a
room, be it his personal space or a place of group therapy and activities might affect the way
the individual receives the treatment, bringing about as negative physical or psychological
How different is the living grey of an overcast sky or a blue wash over brown to the dead
grey of a concrete wall. (Christopher, 2002).
Clearly, a building balance or imbalance, whether be it colour, the light in a building, design
or even the length of a corridor can affect the way in which residents in a therapeutic
community react to the energy of the space and can relax and release themselves. The
example of a group therapy session in Reading, England, provides quite an amazing example
of how architectural space can play with the psychology of the individual, particularly so
when this is a member of a therapeutic community, seeking positivity.
The dependency culture of being in an old asylum was symbolized every lunch time when
the food was delivered and plugged in by a porter (Crampling).
In essence, the daily life within community housing individuals who need to feel as close to a
home as possible must be designed having buildings in mind that are both practical but also
do away with any institutionalized emotions. According to Leibrock researchers in the field of
anthroposophic medicine have maintained that colour can be a major contributing factor
towards patients regaining health. She describes green as a colour which is psychologically
perceived as providing safe refuge, while coral, peach and yellow are seen as warmer choices
for a dining room and blue is considered relaxing. In her book Design details for health, in
which she associates good health with the positive aura of space, she argues that warm colour
hues are often associated with extroverted responses and social contact.
A monochromatic colour scheme throughout the building may be perceived as
institutionalIt can contribute to sensory deprivation which leads to disorganization of brain
function (Smith, Watkins, 2010).
3.2 Kinaesthetic and Landscaping
Kinaesthesia is the exploration of our environment through movement; this can be
movement with the eyes or with our body (Schaap)

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The sense of movement in a space, deriving from the combination of the Greek words kinisi
and aisthisi has been said to affect the way the individual reacts to the building, how it
marks their behaviour, mood, how it creates and maintains a positive or negative attitude to
the particular situation they are facing. Architecture can become a strong determinant in the
successful kinaesthetic of individuals, particularly in the case of people with psychological
imbalances such as drug addicts, who have joined therapeutic communities seeking to regain
the peace of their inner self in order to build or regain their social identity. So the way they
are able to physically interact with their surroundings, the kinaesthetic of human bodies, can
be said to be decisive in how they adapt to their daily routine in a group community.
Laban refers to movements directed towards other objects and bodies. The latter, termed
spatial-movements, construct nearly imperceptible forms of social interaction (Zaida)
Ziada, utilizing the model of the ritual space of Muslim mosques and Soviet assemblies,
argues that building spaces for collective activities, (much like therapeutic communities), can,
through their design, produce a positive sense of kinaesthetic in individuals, who are in
situation of conjoined attention and communal practice. For people in drug reformation this
can be said to be highly relevant, as they need to adapt to their new tasks and responsibilities
and learn new skills that can change their mobility in a positive manner. So in other words,
improving ones kinaesthetic skills in a setting that encourages techniques and therapies to do
so is a highly significant step towards an improved physical presence that also brings about
internal changes. In simple terms, building positivity produces body positivity, as well as
techniques to further improve this positivity. Besides, movement is a major part of sensory
perception. According to Dutch architect Jasper Schaap, who co-wrote the paper Design your
own Mind in 2009, contemporary architecture must turn the tide of its alienation, through
buildings that are not monochromic and mono-visual, spaces that participate and affect human
movement and action, designs which encourage multi-sensory perception, bringing to the fore
the power of the senses, beyond the visual and the spatial. As the Design your own Mind
researchers point out, buildings which encourage a highly positive sense of kinaesthesia,
connect with the individuals that reside in them. The Schaap thesis is that moving through
space with the body, automatically makes the architecture experience less static. What
Pallasmaa calls the eyes of the skin If you manage to wake up these eyes, the building
immediately becomes a source of positive energy of particular importance to drug addicts
who need to develop a new self.

Therapeutic Architecture

If we succeed in enticing the senses, people can participate again in their surroundings
and regain their identity in the contemporary world (Schaap).
A 2000 paper on a Rehabilitation and Education village for Drug Addicts uses the same
premise in designing an art therapy room. The senses are prodded through a wide space that
allows rich daylight, distance between individuals so each one can feel the space of their own
creativity, as well as an informal furniture setting, that further encourages a spontaneous
reaction, limiting the emotion, the perception of you will, that this is an exercise or an
obligatory activity. But landscape can also contribute to a heightened positive kinaesthesia in
therapeutic communities, with Ling providing the case study of The Good Samaritan
Regional Medical Centre in Arizona, whereby the space triggers the senses through an award
winning health design. The surrounding garden awakens
patients senses of sight, smell and touch, prompting body movement by inspiring the
patient to explore the garden (Jean- Mary,2009).
Water flowing through the garden as well as proximity of plants to all patients, allows, as
pointed out in the Ling paper, the interactive sense of touch.
But the same effect, it is underlined, can be achieved through keeping an open space
landscape simple, without elaborate additions, such as the case study provided of the Harrison
hospital in Washington, where the architect focused on creating a stony pattern with the least
of plants, creating curvy pathways, a process known as abstraction, that awakens the
individual to the realization of their problems and smoothly allows them to concentrate on the
Leibrock introduces the concept of the Healing Garden, whereby nature, through landscaping,
becomes part of the therapeutic process. Many addict communities might not have the means
to create such conditions, but as the paper will argue through two case studies, when it is
possible through design it can provide a much needed psychological boost. Leibrock cites
studies linking sunlight exposure to wellbeing and details the architectural innovation of
American James Burnett, outlining his plan of a bed-accessible garden so that contact with
nature can be re-established.


Therapeutic Architecture

3.3 Light and shadow

Architecture is the masterly, correct and magnificent play of volumes brought together in
light ...the history of architecture is the history of the struggle for light. (Le Corbusier).
Light and particularly the life-giving rays of the sun, have been well documented as a major
determinant of vitality and well being, more so in therapeutic environments where such
positive natural stimulants can go a long way towards developing the desired attitude to
individual change. In therapeutic architecture therefore, the way sunlight is utilized is one of
the factors in creating a healthy environment and psychological motivation. The way the
corridors are lit, the way the windows are placed throughout the building to reflect warmth
and how light and shadow appears in the space, can affect the balance or imbalance of rooms,
always in conjunction with colour, shape, interior design and landscape features. Once again
its all about the way the senses perceive the surrounding environment, the degree that space
resonates with the individual self. Marilyne Andersen of MIT is amongst a group of young
architects and researchers who have become increasingly aware of the importance of
incorporating sunlight in building design. They have realized that
Light is not only an amount of energy," Andersen said. "It also provides us with the
means to reveal spaces and volumes and interact with our environment." (Smith, Watkins,
For Day, sunlight is a great part of the spirit of place and directly associated with physical and
psychological health. Its all about energy and mood and how it positively connects people
with their environment, particularly so when it comes to a long and arduous process of selfhealing, such as in addict therapeutic communities. Daylight is also closely associated with
kinaesthesia and as Day argues, natural light through what he calls interactive directions,
constantly changes the colours and shadow dynamic, stimulating the eye, which is essentially
for health,
as NASA sensory-deprivation research has demonstrated (Christopher, 2002).
Leibrock offers a host of ideas on how public areas in treatment centres can become more
sensory-positive, for example waiting areas, as she points out, where patients and their
families will feel more comfortable when provided access to nature and natural light. This can
be achieved with the waiting area (or for example group therapy areas in the case of
therapeutic communities), being designed in an atrium or adjacent to a courtyard. What is


Therapeutic Architecture

clear to Leibrock is that natural light deinstitutionalizes and humanizes the space, making
residents feel they are not enclosed, but receiving therapy in a home-like environment. More
so in terms of therapy
sufficient lighting is particularly important in areas where concentration is required,
decisions are made or danger is present. (Christopher, 2002).



Therapeutic Architecture

Therapeutic Environment
4.1 Introduction
Healthcare facilities are designed not only to support and facilitate state-of-the-art medicine
and technology, patient safety, and quality patient care, but to also embrace the patient,
family, and caregivers in a psycho-socially supportive therapeutic environment. The
characteristics of the physical environment in which a patient receives care affects patient
outcomes, patient satisfaction, patient safety, staff efficiency, staff satisfaction, and
organizational outcomes. The effects can be positive or negative. No environment is neutral.
A healthcare environment is therapeutic when it does all of the following:

Supports clinical excellence in the treatment of the physical body

Supports the psycho-social and spiritual needs of the patient, family, and staff

Produces measurable positive effects on patients' clinical outcomes and staff


4.2. Theory / Background

Therapeutic Environment theory stems from the fields of environmental psychology (the
psycho-social effects of environment), psychoneuroimmunology (the effects of environment
on the immune system), and neuroscience (how the brain perceives architecture). Patients in a
healthcare facility are often fearful and uncertain about their health, their safety, and their
isolation from normal social relationships. The large, complex environment of a typical
hospital further contributes to the stressful situation. Stress can cause a person's immune
system to be suppressed, and can dampen a person's emotional and spiritual resources,
impeding recovery and healing.
Healthcare architects, interior designers, and researchers have identified four key factors
which, if applied in the design of a healthcare environment, can measurably improve patient

Reduce or eliminate environmental stressors

Provide positive distractions

Enable social support

Therapeutic Architecture

Give a sense of control

The application of these factors has been focused on the patient and patient's family.
However, there are also recognized potential benefits for staff and caregivers in terms of
satisfaction, effectiveness, and staff retention, from environmental factors such as:

Noise reduction

Same-handed patient rooms

Access to daylight

Appropriate lighting

Providing 'off-stage' areas for respite

Proximity to other staff

Appropriate use of technology

Decentralized observation, supplies, and charting

The benefits staff receives from these environmental factors may impact the quality of care
patient experience.
In general, Therapeutic Environments have been proven to be cost-effective by improving
patient outcomes, reducing length of stay, and by enhancing staff satisfaction, recruitment,
and retention of staff.
4.3 Practice
To create a therapeutic environment, all members of the design teammedical planner,
architect, engineer, interior designer, site and landscape designer,are responsible for using
the power of design to find solutions that will affect the patients and staff in positive ways,
throughout the facility; from the parking lot, approach, and entry, to the public spaces, clinical
spaces, and ultimately the patient room. Following are some specific design criteria that are
used or are being studied:
4.3.1 Reduce or Eliminate Environmental Stressors
For example:

Artwork and aesthetics can enhance the soothing and calming qualities of a space


Therapeutic Architecture

Adequate space should be provided in public areas and waiting rooms to avoid

Perceived waiting time can be mitigated by positive distractions

Visual and noise privacy

Odors that are objectionable or 'medical' can create stress

Wayfinding; the built environment should provide clear visual cues to orient patients
and families, and guide them to their destination and return. Landscaping, building
elements, daylight, color, texture, and pattern should all give cues, as well as artwork
and signage

Reduce or eliminate sources of noise; other patients, public address systems,

equipment 'clatter', loud conversations at nurse stations

Acoustical treatment of corridors adjacent to patient rooms; carpet tiles, rubber


Acoustical separation of staff work areas from patient rooms; "even low noise levels
(40-58 dB) combined with poor acoustics can reduce sleep quality and negatively
affect other outcomes" (Roger Ulrich, Ph.D., Healing Environments Virtual Seminar,
AIA, 2003)

Appropriate lighting systems; "lighting can be a stressor that alters mood, increases
stress, disrupts daily rhythms, and modulates hormone production" (J. Roberts)

Provide lighting that supports natural circadian rhythm; "Provide natural daylighting
where possible, or bright white lights (400-600nm) in the daytime. Ensure absolute
darkness in the evening; for nighttime movement only red lights (650-700nm) should
be present in the rooms." (J. Roberts)

Maintain good indoor air quality; 100% outside air where climatic conditions allow

Color, while subjective, can be a design factor in reducing environmental stress when
understood and used in the context of the color preferences of a project-specific

4.3.2 Provide Positive Distraction

For example:

Views of nature, from patient rooms, and wherever possible in lobby, waiting, and
other 'high stress' areas

Access to nature, healing gardens


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Chapel, meditation room, and meditation gardens

Artwork depicting nature, including back-lighted photographs of nature

Music; live piano in public area, recorded music in patient room when programmed
specifically to create a healing environment

Mild physical exercise; corridors, public spaces, and gardens that invite walking when

Pets and other activities or elements that allow for a sense of stimulation that help
nurture a patient's sense of positive well-being

4.3.3 Enable Social Support

For example:

Family zone in patient room; with furniture for sleeping, phone and internet
connection, reading light with separate control, and out of the way of staff

Provide places where patients can engage socially with family and other caregivers,
such as the Planetree feature of a Family kitchen on inpatient units where family
members can prepare food for patients and families to eat together

Provide accommodation for accompanying family member to be with patient

throughout the examination and treatment process

Organize Family Focus Groups and Patient and Family Advisory Councils to be an
active part of the design process, tuning in to the specific needs of the population and
community to be served, as recommended by the Institute for Family-Centered Care

Ensure culturally appropriate environments

Consider sociopetal versus sociofugal spaces: Sociopetal spaces facilitate social

behaviors and the development of social groups (nonfixed seating, round tables, etc).

4.3.4 Give a Sense of Control

The ability of the patient to control the environment directly contributes to successful patient
outcomes. A sense of control extends from privacy and lighting to choosing artwork being
hung in the patient's bedroom during the hospitalization, to ordering meals from room service.
For example:

Private patient rooms result in better outcomes, according to recent studies

commissioned by the Facilities Guidelines Institute and conducted for CHER


Therapeutic Architecture

Give the patient as much privacy and control over it, as is consistent with the need for
nursing supervision

Give the patient control over the immediate environment; i.e., radio, TV, reading light,
night light

Wayfinding; the built environment should provide clear visual cues to orient patients
and families, and guide them to their destination and return. Landscaping, building
elements, daylight, color, texture, and pattern should all give cues, as well as artwork
and signage

Provide mini-medical library and computer terminals so patients can research their
conditions and treatmentsas in the Planetree model

Choice of lighting; patients and staff can benefit from personal dimming controls

Choice of artwork

Volume and programming control of televisions in waiting areas

Room service/menu selection

Storage area for patient belongings

4.3.5 Tools
Every healthcare project should begin with a review of existing available literature on design
interventions that have been proven to improve patient outcomes, staff effectiveness and
patient safety, and a decision made with the users as to how each one might apply to the
project, and what outcomes / benefits would be expected. Checklists can assist designers and
users in evaluating existing conditions and in setting goals for new facilities planning and
design. Design goals that are set and clearly defined at the beginning of a project can serve as
research questions to be answered by Post-Occupancy Surveys, data collection, and
4.3.6 Operational Models
Aligning the healthcare organization's operational model with the design goals early in the
process is a key to success in creating a collaborative, emotionally, spiritually, and socially
supportive environment.



Therapeutic Architecture

Case Study
5.1 Groot Klimmendaal Rehabilitation Revalidation Centre-Arnhem Netherlands
This is the magnificence of therapeutic glass where the sunlight is ever-present, bringing
residents as close to nature as they might ever hope to be. The overarching characteristic of
this two-storey glass rehabilitation centre is direct contact with nature, a landscaping decision
that places this building in an idyllic forest environment, but not at a great distance from the
city of Arnhem, as the sports facilities of the centre are also used by the community, as a
means of encouraging addicts to feel a sense of belonging.
Despite its size, the brown-golden anodized aluminium facade allows the nearly 14.000sqm
building to blend in with its natural surroundings (Koen Van Velsen, 2011).

Figure 5.1: The exterior facade of the Groot Klimmendaal Rehabilitation Revalidation Centre
Source: Website

Improving positive kinaesthesis is clearly the concept guiding the continuity between exterior
and interior, through an innovative height glazing along the central area of the community
that connects the internal aspects of the building in a subtle but importantly practical design,
which ensures that residents dont feel enclosed, cut off. The brightly lit faade of the
restaurant establishes warm emotions during day meals, with the hall windows virtually
touching the surrounding forest in a welcoming environment.


Therapeutic Architecture

A strong visual and tangible presence everywhere because of the surrounding nature. The
user was allowed to revalidate whilst walking. (Koen Van Velsen, 2011).

Fig 5.2: Restaurant inside the centre

Fig 5.3: Connection between the interior and exterior

Source: Website

Source: Website

All recreation, fitness and other common use spaces such as the gym, swimming pool,
restaurant and theatre are located in close proximity at entrance level. The facilities are also
used by residents families as well as members of the local community. The philosophy
behind facilities being used by locals is that the patient, who is placed at the centre of the
community gradually, begins to feel re-integrated. The concept behind the design is first and
foremost, care and therapy not through detachment and negative seclusion, but designing the
building and its spaces to become part of the surroundings and the community. A centre
designed to encourage the self-awareness of the residents about their problems and enhance
their degree of responsibility in overcoming their problems through their own personal
involvement, but also interaction with the group. The open environment of the interior design
is set to promote self-confidence, with great emphasis also placed on recreational activities
and therapy through arts expression. Architect Koen van Velsen made sure no part of the
building is detached by creating a direct route between the different floors, as well as
alternative routes to reach different areas. This brings about both a positive sense of physical
movement, as well as a community spirit. The interplay between light and shadows is also
evident, in combination to other psychologically boosting effects, such as colour and shapes.
Natural daylight deep in the heart of the 30 meters wide building was allowed. The
interior was enlivened by striking but subtle colours and direct and indirect artificial
lighting. (Koen Van Velsen, 2011).


Therapeutic Architecture

Fig 5.4: View of the interiors

Fig 5.5: Visual connection

Source: Website

Source: Website

In practical terms, the design of mechanical and electrical installations was energy saving,
particularly through thermal storage. Designed to be easily maintained for a long period of
time, the rehabilitation revalidation centre forms a sustainable multiuse, closely-knit building
exuding stimulating therapeutic components. A building arranged not just for use exclusively
by residents but also the community, forging a feeling of social belonging for everyone.
Complex in its web of connected floors, rooms and public spaces, but also simple in its desire
to unite and encourage residents to use and benefit from the whole area, making it practical
and accessible, it establishes continuity and a diversity of use, utilizing nature, light, colour
and kinaesthetic. This was the winner of the 2011 Architecture Festival in the field of health.
The design ambition was not to create a centre with the appearance of a health building
but a building as a part of its surroundings and the community (Koen Van Velsen, 2011).

Figure 5.6:The exterior

Source: Website


Therapeutic Architecture

5.2 Muktangan Rehabilitation Centre, Pune

The Muktangan de-addiction centre is run by Muktangan Mitra, a Pune based NGO. The
institute is located in Pune and is designed by architect Sirish Beri taking into account the
natural topography and terrain of the immediate surroundings. It is a small institute
consuming 3700sq.m of built-up area. Muktangan has been involved in the herculean task of
creating a drug free society for the past 12 years, Muktangan has treated over 14,000 patients
and has been involved with the creation of awareness amongst the public of the problems
faced by a drug addict.
Sirish Beris concern for this project included whether architecture could provide the required
therapeutic spaces by bringing man closer to nature to its beauty and harmony and whether
the quality of outer space can affect our inner psychological space. To create this natural
therapeutic ambience, natural stone, plants, creepers, the sky and the clouds were made a part
of architectural vocabulary. Features such as raised planters with spread of flowers at the
window sill, help cheering up the patients while entering the consulting room.

Figure 5.7: Cultural activity in the centre

Source: Website

A sense of freedom is also very important while dealing with the drug addicts as closed
environment may not foster the therapeutic environment. To create this sensation Beri has
used a system of courtyards which cut right through the centre of the entire volume providing
the sense of transparency in the mass. This in turn also helps break all visual and physical
barriers and promote healthy interaction. Beri however did not take into account that


Therapeutic Architecture

continuous visual interaction with outside visitors may not always be helpful to the patients,
or safe. By providing a continuous open street along the entire volume the potential for escape
exists. A sense of privacy is thus not very strong due to this over provision of freedom.
The use of natural stone was to ensure a sense of belonging. The patients would know their
natural surroundings and the buildings gels well with the immediate surroundings. However
the continuous rock faade all around the building gives it a fortress like connotation, which
in turn speaks of not only a highly secure zone but also a very isolated environment. It
contradicts the welcoming attitude which Beri might have wanted to create when he added an
exhibition hall as a dominant function. Both the ideas of creating public awareness by
bringing people into the institute, and creating the sense of security and privacy and treatment
like environs, are apt for a drug de-addiction centre. But Beris enforcement of these ideas
within the same space has resulted in a contradictory structure.
5.2.1 Visual clarity

The site is designed on contours with proper utilization of levels.

The massing of structure allows the expression of freedom and helps the patients to
feel more secure.

Fig 5.8: View from amphitheatre to entrance

Fig 5.9: Raised planters at window sill

Source: Author

Source: Author

A balance is struck between a sense of freedom and disciplinary control of the centre,

Diffused light entry creates a peaceful and serene atmosphere within the hall.


Therapeutic Architecture

Raised planters with the spread of flowers at the windowsill are used to cheer the
patients as soon as they enter the consultation room.

5.2.2 Natural elements

The natural stone, plants, creepers, the sky and clouds becomes the architectural
vocabulary to create a natural therapeutic ambience.

Fig 5.10: View of amphitheatre from the building

Source: Author

5.2.3 Facilities

With the provision of libraries, exhibition hall and a gym along with the kitchen courts
and large play areas, Beri has managed to create the required interaction spaces, yet
there is lack of diversity in the workshops available to the patients, which tends to
create a sense of monotony for the users.

An exhibition hall or an amphitheatre promotes a healthy interaction but a common

waiting area does not.

There are different therapies for the patients like music therapy, art therapy etc which
tries bringing their actual potential bringing them confidence in living.

There is a dining room which has attached kitchen to it where in these patients are
assigned to certain tasks related to cooking.

An important inference of this case study is massing of the built. Beri has created a
transparency in the mass and has in turn allowed for the movement of the patients through
outdoor spaces, which is therapeutic in nature. He has also provided certain degree of sense of


Therapeutic Architecture

security through the use of wall stones and exterior faade. Thus Beri has incorporated three
things on this rehabilitation centre, sense of security. Sense of openness, ambience of hope
and trust.
Our friends graduate to subsequent weeks and evolve in a wonderful group. Just like defence
staff and college students. The five week program is designed keeping in view the emotional
cognitive and awareness levels of our friends.-Dr.Sanjay Bagath
5.2.4 Zoning

The building is planned as an inward looking structure applying the concept of

drug rehabilitation therapy itself i.e. to create an environment for the patients away
from the outside world.

The building has an introvert concept with all rooms opening to the central court.

All rooms opening to the central court provides a central interaction space for the
patients at all times making the place look lively.

No separate space has been provided for recreation which plays a major role in the
recovery of the patients.

Fig 5.11: Ground floor plan

Source: Website


Therapeutic Architecture

5.2.5 Landscaping

Space has been specially created just outside the windows, having lush green
planters to provide patients with pleasant view outside.

The amphitheatre is also largely landscaped with long creepers and pavers
intercepted with grass.

The small central courtyard forms the core of the radial planning of the building.

On the faade for ornamentation as well as climatologically creepers have been


Open spaces being one of the most important elements are not available.

5.2.6 Built form and architectural expression

By using subtle colours scheme and natural and smooth structural elements the
interiors of the building provide a warm soothing environment contrary to the
outer faade.

This makes the place more seem like a naturopathy centre compared to a prison

Fig 5.12: Entrance

Source: Author


Therapeutic Architecture

5.2.7 Lighting and ventilation

Ample natural lighting is provided throughout the building due to large window
openings and through the open courtyards and the amphitheatre.

Lighting according to various psychologists at Muktangan, is the vital part of the

treatment process ad a dark corner or space reminds the patient of his depression
and past where as bright light takes the patient away from such situations.

Fig 5.13: View of central lobby

Source: Author

The idea of this project was to design a building that would have a therapeutic value
contribution to the healing process of the drug addict. A balance was struck between the sense
of freedom and disciplinary control. The design unifying transparency becomes expressive of
this freedom and increases the physical and visual interaction, there by reducing the isolated
alienated feeling. Even the main entrance is transparent. The transparency, the cut-out, the
terraced balconies and the seating, encourage the patients to open up. The small enclosed
landscaped amphitheatre breathes light and joy in the building; it binds the various functions
together, creating a much-needed sense of belonging.


Therapeutic Architecture

The recent declination of architects from conventional principles of design in the field of
health care has been spectacular. Professionals have realized that multi-dimensional
practicality but wrapped in simple details is the way forward, with light, colour, kinaesthetics,
connection of spaces and nature at close proximity (wherever possible) forming the
ingredients. Therapeutic architecture has taken a strong anthropocentric turn.
When it comes to drug addiction rehabilitation centres, the focus is now firmly towards
constructing buildings that is de-institutionalized. Where addicts gradually gain the feeling of
awareness, self-confidence and dont feel they are closed in by a rejecting finger pointing
society, but merely passing through the therapeutic community on their way to recovery, reintegration into the group and re-invention of the self. Through group counselling, community
work, responsibility, recreational therapy, group exposure, interaction. But in buildings that
nudge the senses into self-healing, not push them back oblivion. It has to be architecture that
brings about a continuous process of change, even if the start is just a window reflecting
sunlight in the right place. It will act as a research and information centre on substance abuse
in the state.
The needs of the individual sufferer-and dont use complex constructs-but the materials nature
and simplicity of space can provide as the ingredients of a healing design. Truth, beauty,
good. That was Platos philosophy.
To make the drug addicts feel comfortable which enhances the pace of recovery by providing
the best environment that helps in psychological treatments. The seminar helps to arrive at an
architectural proposal for rehabilitation centre that that helps the addicts to integrate
themselves to return to sobriety and become a productive member of the society. This aim can
be achieved my fulfilling the following objectives.
The rehabilitation centre designed keeping in view the welfare of all affected population in
the context of drug addiction. It should be an eco friendly structure which blends into the
surroundings. It should give a feeling of vast space and freedom without compromising

Therapeutic Architecture

Natural elements must be greatly included in design as it is part of certain treatments like
psychological, managements.
The concept behind the proposed drug rehabilitation centre at Kolkata intends to emphasize
on the therapeutic environment. The following will be addressed while creating therapeutic
Reduce environmental Stress by using familiar material, cheerful with varied colours, natural
lighting, outdoor- views and access, mediation rooms/ gardens. Music and art, easy way
finding process, attention to proportions, scale, colour, detail, bright open public spaces, noise
reduction, no medical odours, good indoor air quality, play on light and shadow.
Provide Positive Distractions by making surrounding cheerful, bright colours, group therapy
halls with areas to respite.
Enable social support outdoor views, access, activities, large open social gathering spaces,
privacy, and accommodation for family members.
The centre will also give a sense of control to the patient by giving them colour corrected
light where natural light is not possible, controlled views but access to outdoors, changes to
be allowed in rooms, easy way finding, the design will be on human scale, will be homelike
with intimate environments, areas of respite, privacy, medical library.