The Senses in Healthcare Architecture and Design: Developing Guidance for Hospitals

Call for Expressions of Interest

We seek expressions of interest for a working group to develop a guidance document for hospitals on sensory architecture and design. We want to design a document that prompts engagement with ‘good’ sensory design in new-build hospitals and hospital redevelopments. We hope that the guidance can bring together existing expertise on sensory design at a range of scales: from furniture and objects, to arts, interior design and architecture. Members of the working group will be named as co-authors of the finished guidance note, and we will be able to offer some compensation for people’s time/contributions. We seek a small working group of around 6-8 people, meeting approximately 3 times per year over the course of mid 2021-mid 2023 to develop a draft. We will discuss the draft at a conference in 2023 and then seek an extension to our funding in 2024-27 to finalise, produce, and disseminate this guidance.

This guidance note will be developed in partnership with Architects for Health, as part of a UKRI-funded ‘Future Leaders Fellowship’ on the sensory environment of the NHS hospital. The project (‘Sensing Spaces of Healthcare’) explores the sensory past, present and future of NHS hospitals. Many critiques of hospital design claim that we have lost ‘holistic’ design in healthcare and refer to historical examples to make their case, but draw repeatedly on the same few examples (Nightingale wards, sanatoria) and focus on their visual features (colour, light). This project offers a new way of approaching the hospital, for the benefit of hospital historians, designers and users. It focuses on more recent – and under-studied – hospitals of the National Health Service. It also rethinks healthcare environments through the body and the senses, focusing on how places feel and have felt rather than how they look and have looked. This guidance note will be one of the project outcomes, alongside a sensory research ‘toolkit’ for use in hospitals.

If you are interested in contributing to the working group, please send an email to by 31 March 2021. Please include your name, contact details, and up to 150 words on your relevant expertise and what you think you can bring to the working group.