Following the Footprints of Nature: Testing Biophilic Design Effects on Chemotherapy Patients’ Psycho-Physiological Conditions

Promotors: Els De Vos, Ahmed Hussein Elshafey

​The built environment was initially invented to shelter humans from unpleasant environmental conditions, support them, and reduce fear and stress. However, with the rise of the Industrial Revolution and modern building technologies, the built environment gradually became an isolator of humans from the natural environment and consequently impacted the human-nature connection. This has impacted various building typologies, including hospitals, and led to their interior design being more factory-like and clinical. Additionally, modern medicine concentrates more on curing disease rather than increasing the human sense of well-being while ignoring the psychological aspects interconnected to the built environment. In contrast, Nature is the core of human life and an essential component of human existence; research has highlighted the importance of the human relationship with nature and its psychophysiological impacts. A newly developed approach to reflecting this human-nature relationship and fulfilling human needs for nature at a broader level is the so-called Biophilic Approach, defined as “Biophilic interior design, "an innovative approach that emphasises the necessity of maintaining, enhancing, and restoring the beneficial experience of nature in the built environment” (Kellert, 2008). However, this approach lacks clarity of implementation procedures in the interior built environment of oncology hospitals. It is surrounded by ambiguity due to limited research conducted using clinical testing methods to prove the psychophysiological effects of biophilic interior design, as there are no records of concrete evidence of biophilic effects on chemotherapy patients. This initiated the hypothesised research question of whether the biophilic design approach has a psychophysiological impact on chemotherapy patients and caregivers and concluded the need for research to clinically test the psychophysiological effect of the Biophilic design approach on chemotherapy patients.

This research aims to develop the relationship between the hospital-built environment and the hospital occupants, improving the patient’s sense of well-being, supporting and speeding up the healing process, and creating a more domestic and less clinical hospital look. Furthermore, it improves support for caregivers and increases their productivity while reducing stress levels. This will be achieved through the following stages with main key deliverables:

 -Develop a Biophilic Interior Design matrix for hospital (BIDM-HCF’s) interior environment in specific oncology hospitals (chemo department)

-Testing the psychophysiological effects of the BIDM-HCFs on the occupants of the chemotherapy department.

- Provide both clear implementation procedures of biophilic design in the interior space of oncology hospitals and solid evidence of its effectiveness on these occupant categories[patients and caregivers].

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