Design PhD Conference: Better by Design: Environment, Society & Self, Lancaster University, 2015

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Research Title: 
Designing Public Reception Areas in Children’s Hospitals
Rawa Abu Lawi\sawalha
R. Walker
Christopher Boyko
Mon, 2014-12-01
Designing_Public_Reception_Areas_in_Childrens_Hospitals.pdf496.35 KB
Research Abstract: 
Designing Public Reception Areas in Children’s Hospitals
Ph.D. Candidate: Rawa Abu Lawi ( - Lancaster University, Year 3, to be completed 2015.
Supervisors: Prof. Stuart Walker. Dr. Christopher Boyko
Keywords: Children’s Hospital, healing environment, interior design, interior architecture, design for children, co-design, and co-creation.
This research focuses on four main topics: Children’s’ Cognitive Development - especially age-appropriate interior design; Hospital Design especially children’s hospital design, designing healing environments for children; Public Spaces In Hospitals - interior architecture and interior design; Design in Context - especially the context of Palestine.
Literature indicates that research is needed in the design of healing environments for children to create spaces that are child friendly and meet their cognitive development needs. In particular, there is little research available about the design of hospital reception areas and atriums. Also, most empirical research uses traditional social science methods to understand the requirements for healing environments for children (e.g., interviews, observations). Few studies use designerly approaches or arts-based activities. An additional factor is that most research has been conducted in the West, with little research from other countries, like Palestine, where few hospitals are devoted only to children.
This research aims to determine: the key design factors, functions, constraints, and programme requirements for designing the entrance areas of a children’s hospitals; context-specific issues of Palestine; the most important considerations for interior design and interior architecture related to the main entrance areas; and the factors pertaining to ‘healing environments’, all of which can inform the design of the main entrance areas.
From a critical analysis of the literature, specific research questions and the development of a primary research plan were realised. The main research question is: For a new children’s hospital in Palestine how should the public reception areas be designed so that they are suitable for all age ranges?
This study uses an exploratory, qualitative participatory design methodology. Data were collected using co-design and co-creation workshops that included arts-based activities and semi-structured recorded interviews. Nine workshops were conducted in Palestine. Participants included children from 3-18 years, parents, doctors, nurses, employees of the reception and admission desk, and four groups of designers. All the participants, excluding designers, participated in drawing and modeling activities. The use of drawings with children is an indispensable tool because children’s’ verbal expression is often not developed, and because preferences and ideas can express more intuitively. Similarly, models can be an effective tool because they can express ideas and preferences about form, materials and size in a way that words alone cannot describe.
This study demonstrates that practical design methods in the research process can be very effective in fostering creativity and in drawing out ideas and preferences from young children and other stakeholders. Such methods provide a novel approach to designing healing environments for children.