Effects of Art and Design on Orientation in Healthcare Architecture : A study of wayfinding and wayshowing in a Swedish hospital setting
Abstract: This thesis investigates the role of interior design elements, especially artwork, in way-searchers’ wayfinding and orientation in hospital environments. The thesis considers the way-searcher’s background and the impact of cultural belonging, occupation, memories, aesthetic preferences, and language, and the influence that such factors might have on the perception of the hospital environment and its guiding elements. The aim is to increase the knowledge about the role of art objects and how they relate to design processes by studying how art and design appear to users at three different sites at the hospital SUS Malmö, and also to gain insight into decisions made about the design and the placement of public art in a health-care environment.The thesis consists of four studies developed to complement each other. They include three different experiencing perspectives: the visitor’s perspective, the designer’s perspective, and the observing researcher’s perspective. This mix of perspectives helps to obtain a broad understanding of the complex experience and effectiveness of wayshowing design in a health-care environment and of the intentions behind making, choosing, and installing art for and in hospitals. A mixed-methods approach is used that mainly relies on qualitative studies, but that also has some quantitative elements. The techniques used for collecting information are: questionnaire, on-site interviews, semi-structured interviews, walking interviews, observation, and photographic documentation. This mixed-methodological approach is used to attain a successively deeper understanding and acquire more diverse knowledge of the role that interior design and artwork have for wayfinding, and by that also pointing to the development of wayfinding theory, especially as it refers to notions like orientation, wayfinding, legibility, affordance, and familiarity. These theoretical concepts are used here in analyses and descriptions of way-searchers’, especially newcomers’, experiences and perceptions of the interior health-care environment.The four studies of this thesis point out different areas of interest for analyzing wayfinding in hospitals, thus also indicating how they could be considered to guide the design of wayshowing in hospital environments. The areas of interest can be listed as: spatial heterogeneity (about the making of contrasts between spaces); evoked familiarity (about elements in the hospital space that may bring back memories); overfamiliarity (about places taken for granted due to frequent use); broad participation (about consulting a range of users in all stages of the realization of a hospital environment); users’ background (about considering ethnicity, cultural knowledge, occupation, and previous experiences of art), and time- and duration effects (about acknowledging that perception might change during visits or in stays of a longer duration).
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