Conference Paper

Lying architecture: Experiencing space from a hospital bed

Conference: WELL-BEING 2011: The First International Conference Exploring the Multi-dimensions of Well-being


Patients experience a hospital from a particular perspective—lying in a hospital bed—which is highly under researched. To gain a better understanding of the spatial experience from this perspective, we combined a literature review with exploratory fieldwork and in-depth interviews with various stakeholders. Through qualitative data analyses, three major themes were identified that characterize this perspective: a hospital bed is a material object; it has a social dimension; and it is used to move a patient through the building. The combination of these three aspects suggests that the perspective of lying in a hospital bed, with its implications for social interaction and movement, may give important new insights in how hospital buildings could be designed.

Download full-text


Available from: Ann Heylighen,
    • "Then the coded excerpts were assigned on a map to specific places along the route. However, as we know from literature and earlier research, sensory experience does not entirely cover patients' experience of a hospital building (Annemans et al., 2011, 2014; Pols & Moser, 2009; Watts & Urry, 2008). Therefore we coded the transcripts also according to aspects that impact experience. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: For in-patients who spend a longer time in the hospital, the built environment plays a significant role in their experience. While many hospital boards aim to create a patient-centred hospital, few have a specific idea about what this means in terms of spatial qualities. This creates a major challenge for those involved in designing hospital environments. Therefore we aimed to identify which elements play a role in in-patients' spatial experience, and how these elements relate and interact. Patients were followed during transport and afterwards interviewed. In this way we gained insight into their spatial experience, static and in motion. This experience turns out to be shaped by material, social, and time-related aspects. An analysis of the interactions between these aspects yields a nuanced understanding of how in-patients’ experience of the hospital environment is shaped by the spatial and social organization, movement, and perspective. This understanding should allow informing hospital boards, architects, and staff to start designing hospital buildings in a more patient-centred way.
    Space and Culture 01/2016; · 0.40 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "In the first months of our research we conducted interviews with various actors in the field (medical staff, patients, technical directors of hospitals, hospital architects) to obtain a profound understanding of the meaning of the bed in the hospital (Annemans et al. 2011). Each interviewee sheds light on the topic from his/her specific perspective. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Despite many efforts by healthcare providers, for most people a hospital stay is rarely a pleasant experience. The hospital building as such is part of this perception. Moreover, the specific situation of a hospital stay is largely determined by the materialization of the organization. Studies on hospital environments tend to single out one particular aspect—e.g. the view through the window, or presence of green—and try to prove its clinical outcome. Yet, they fail to translate their results to the design of real-life settings. Moreover, the influence of patients’ peculiar perspective, i.e. lying in a hospital bed, on the way they experience the reality of the hospital is largely under researched. The overall objective of our research is therefore to investigate what spatial aspects influence patients’ well-being in a hospital setting through an improved understanding of people’s spatial experience from a lying perspective. By developing a better understanding of the relationship between the patient, the objects that take part in his/her hospital life—especially the bed—and the building, we hope to enable architects to design buildings that add to the healing character of the hospital environment. Ultimately, we aim to provide architects with sufficient evidence to design healthcare buildings that can better anticipate the needs of patients and other users. Since our research aims to gain insight in how patients experience a hospital from a lying perspective, we need a manner to make their spatial experience more explicit. Therefore, we explored different ways for patients to document their spatial experience. In this paper, we report on a pilot study which explores how three patients with a very different profile each deal with this task in their own way. The empirical material collected is not only very rich in itself, but also inspires the participating patients to talk about those aspects of the building that affect them most. Certain themes frequently return in the conversations, yet the goal at this stage in our research is not so much to obtain valid, but rather to explore the possibilities of using participant-collected-material to facilitate the interviews.
    Designing Inclusive Systems, Edited by Pat Langdon, John Clarkson, Peter Robinson, Jonathan Lazar, Ann Heylighen, 01/2012: pages 3-22; Springer-Verlag., ISBN: 978-1-4471-2866-3