A psychosocial approach to architectural design : a methodological study

Abstract: In this thesis, psychosocially supportive environmental components are identified and environmental assessment techniques are investigated to evaluate psychosocial components in built environments, particularly in health care environments. The aim is to develop a method useful for designers in collecting quantitative as well as qualitative information about the psychosocial supportiveness of the built environments. In the first paper, an evaluation of the multi-methodological tool (Empowering Environment Evaluation (Triple-E)) was conducted in a hospital ward and a health care center. The aim of the paper was to appropriately select, and test the multi-methodological tool in two cases, where redesign of the existing facilities took place. The results show that, with the Triple-E tool, psychosocially supportive components of the environment could be measured by the combination of structured brainstorming, semantic environmental description, and aesthetical preferences. User group differences were found and further considered for the design process. The analysis-synthesis model of design facilitated the designers understanding of how psychosocial approach could be integrated in the design cycle. In the second paper, the Environment Evaluation tool consisting of a modified semantic environmental description questionnaire and an evaluation of architectural details. The aim of the study was to identify whether there are any differences in perception of psychosocially supportive architectural and interior elements among patients and architects. The results show that there are differences between patients and architects in terms of factors contributing to psychosocial supportiveness. Results also show that the significant architectural details may influence individual psychological skills, which in turn may affect individual social skills and self-management. The ranking of the influential architectural details on perceived supportiveness for the architect and the patient groups is in the following order: 1) window; 2) floor and wall; 3) ceiling and furniture; 4) handicraft, photograph, chair and curtain; 5) noise level, safety, and space for moving. By relating environmental details to environmental semantic descriptive factors further details of psychological and physical factors could be realized. Suggested improvements of the Triple-E tool are the inclusion of measurements of restorative environmental components which may further contribute to stress alleviation and of more structured guidelines for the design purposes.