Children’s hospitals: Designs that lift the spirit

From newly built facilities to renovated units, children’s hospitals around the world continue to colour the healthcare landscape.

Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Ohio, USA

The concept for the expansion of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio takes its inspiration from nature to enhance the healing process. The project, drawing on themes of nature, was overseen by architect Melanie Ide of Ralph Appelbaum Associates. The design provides a fresh, family-friendly environment, along with a touch of whimsy, an approach born of the conviction that patients, staff, family and friends should find comfort and make positive memories during their time at the hospital. A background of silhouettes in shadow and light, accented by bursts of colour and carved wooden animals, introduces vibrancy and warmth.

Nationwide Children’s Hospital, photo Brad Feinknopf

Children’s Cancer Hospital, Sao Paolo, Brazil

Wikoff design studio was contracted to provide the interior design by the Children’s Cancer Hospital in Sao Paolo, Brazil for its new 100,000sqft facility.

“The facility caters to underprivileged children whose families cannot afford healthcare. Because of this, the design team wanted to create an amazing wonderland for them. There are plans for an adjacent facility for the Pediatric Physical Therapy Pavilion,” says Marie Wikoff, principal interior designer of US-based Wikoff design studio.

Children’s Cancer Hospital

Lessons Learned

Although every hospital is specific, interior designer Marie Wikoff shares the following design elements that are critical to patients of all children’s hospitals:

1. Think like a kid! But also think like a kid at every age. What will appeal to the entire group?

2. Provide spaces for three to four different age groups.

3. Don’t forget the family members as they need to be comfortable also. Provide appropriate seating for them.

4. Think outside the box when coming up with your theme, be original. This will keep the child more interested and distract them from the reasons that they are there.

5. Provide themes or colours for each different area/department in order to help with wayfinding. Being in a hospital is stressful enough, make it easy to find your way.

READ MORE: Children’s hospital design: A world away from the ward