Crafting atmospheres for Healthcare Design


  • Esben Skouboe Aalborg University
  • Marie Højlund Aarhus University


This work contributes to the growing body of work, conducted on the vicinities between well-being and biomedical treatments in health design. The article presents and discusses the design of the new delivery rooms at a Danish hospital in Hjørring, including the multi-sensory artwork: Nordjyske stemninger (Moods of Northern Jutland).  The authors are both artists, architects, and researchers in this project, thus it is not the purpose of his article to report evaluation results.

However, it is our intention to share and discuss contemporary healthcare design strategies and point to the importance of considering the interplay between cultural, social change, and environment in order to bridge the know-do gap in healing architecture. Based on our work we give a concrete example of a case aimed at re-introducing art in healthcare environments, supporting the caregiver, the laboring mother, and her companion in the existential and life-changing moment. The article includes descriptions of the design process including interviews, observations, and reflections. In this case, we want to argue that the gap between visions and implementation in evidence-based design and healing architecture, must be understood as a symptom of a deeper epistemological and philosophical challenge concerning the dichotomous and demarcating understanding of the relation between the human and its surroundings, obstructing ecological coherence and validity and silo stacking of results not utilizing the rich potentiality of interdisciplinarity synergies. As it is difficult to convey a bodily and sensory experience in only words and images, we hope that the reader will use their imagination while reading the descriptions of a situated experience throughout the article.

The Ukrainian sculptor Alexander Archipenko described the cause and impulse of creative motivation as seeing the absence of a thing. With this lens we invite the reader behind the scenes in the creation of somesthetic design of the new delivery rooms, now being the background of more than 1.000 births a year in the Northern part of Jutland. The argument of This article uses artistic practice to explore a new potential healthcare practice, with overseen and neglected potentialities in a supportive somesthetic healthcare design.  The article is structured in four parts: Healing environments, Somesthetic design framework, The sensory delivery room, and Reflection.