Stressed spaces: mental health and architecture

Kathleen Connellan, Mads Gaardboe, Damien Riggs, Clemence Due, Amanda Reinschmidt, Lauren Mustillo

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    85 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective: To present a comprehensive review of the research literature on the effects of the architectural designs of mental health facilities on the users.Background: Using a team of cross-disciplinary researchers, this review builds upon previous reviews on general and geriatric healthcare design in order to focus on research undertaken for mental health care facility design.Methods: Sources were gathered in 2010 and 2011. In 2010 a broad search was undertaken across health and architecture; in 2011, using keywords and 13 databases, researchers conducted a systematic search of peer reviewed literature addressing mental health care and architectural design published between 2005 to 2012, as well as a systematic search for academic theses for the period 2000 to 2012. Recurrent themes and subthemes were identified and numerical data that emerged from quantitative studies was tabulated.Results: Key themes that emerged were nursing stations, light, therapeutic milieu, security, privacy, designing for the adolescent, forensic facilities, interior detail, patients' rooms, art, dementia, model of care, gardens, post-occupancy evaluation, and user engagement in design process. Of the 165 articles (including conference proceedings, books, and theses), 25 contained numerical data from empirical studies and 7 were review articles.Conclusions: Based on the review results, especially the growing evidence of the benefits of therapeutic design on patient and staff well-being and client length of stay, additional research questions are suggested concerning optimal design considerations, designs to be avoided, and the involvement of major stakeholders in the design process.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)127-168
    Number of pages42
    JournalHealth Environments Research and Design Journal
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


    • Evidence-based design
    • Hospital
    • Interdisciplinary
    • Literature rview
    • Post-occupancy


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