Proceedings of the Third European Conference on Design4Health 2015 pages:1-9
Design4Health edition:3 location:Sheffield date:13-16 July 2015
While the impact of the physical environment on people’s wellbeing is increasingly recognised, how to design a healing environment remains unclear. An integrated framework that is orientated towards architectural design is still missing. Considering the perspective of users is expected to enhance our understanding of architecture’s healing potential. The aim of this paper is to contribute to this understanding through the exploration of users’ experience in the case of a Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre. Maggie’s is a UK charity that provides psychosocial cancer support, while paying specific attention to the architecture of its Centres. This paper reports the findings from a focus group interview with users (both visitors and caregivers) of the Maggie’s Centre in Dundee. The interview questions were informed by findings from a literature review and interviews with architects of Maggie’s Centres, which were conducted previously. Findings suggest that architecture does play an important role in people’s wellbeing. The users participating in the focus group interview revealed various potential contributions of architecture, such as facilitating stimulation and relaxation. They also discussed and illustrated the significance of architectural themes that were applied by architects of Maggie’s Centres. Moreover, the experience of the building and that of the support service turned out to be intertwined. These contributions reveal opportunities for architecture to be supportive not only on an organisational level, but also on a social level. Our study illustrates architecture’s potential to contribute to an integral atmosphere, by expressing the Maggie’s ethos of people-centeredness, which seems to enhance users’ experience of wellbeing.