A health park for the senses Image 1

A health park for the senses

A design concept realised at the Leverkusen Hospital was inspired by its surrounding parkland. It captures various sensory elements from nature in its interior design so that, instead of a hospital atmosphere, a sense of wellbeing develops.

It’s not for nothing that the Leverkusen Hospital is also known as the Health Park. The hospital facilities are located in the middle of a green area and the individual buildings are linked to each other through lushly planted parkland. “We saw how well the patients – as well as the visitors and employees – felt during the time they spent in the park, so we came up with the idea of bringing the park into the interior of the hospital”, explained Dorothee Vorschütz, head interior designer at HDR GmbH, that specialises in building for health, research and teaching. The focus was specifically on ‘Haus 1Y’. This four-storey building was to be extended by three whole additional floors as well as a building services floor and a partial extension in the basement, while still operational. In order for the people in the hospital to be able to recreate a sense of the park in the interior of the building, a design concept was drawn up with as many elements as possible that could be felt through the senses. “It was of course easiest to address people’s eyes as an organ of perception. Inspired by trees, flowerbeds, spaces, blooms and meadows we set out our world of colour, but we also reconstructed the effects and penetration of natural light. The reverberations in the rooms were removed by means of acoustically effective ceiling materials. And also the feel of the products played a big role in addressing patients’ and visitors’ sense of touch: “That’s why we used many products with textures close to nature”, explained Ms Vorschütz. The team was even able to capture people’s sense of smell with certain ‘organoid’ materials. This material reminds us of compacted hay. A very subtle and agreeable scent diffuses through extremely fine lavender threads that are worked into this material. This material was incorporated as a specially-designed wall cladding applied at central points within the hallways.

“As architects, we are very happy that we are able to realise such unusual design concepts in the health sector thanks to the numerous options that these laminates offer us with their variety of decors and structures“

Dorothee Vorschütz, Head of Interior Design at HDR GmbH
And what was the biggest challenge for design ideas in healthcare? The hygiene regulations. All the objects and surfaces in this area must be cleanable – that is washable with water and able to be disinfected without the surfaces losing colour or showing any other deficiencies. “It is precisely for this reason that we are glad to work with laminate specialists such as Pfleiderer. In this project, for instance, we finished all the nurses counters with Pfleiderer Duropal HPL SolidColor Crystal White”, said Ms Vorschütz. “We consciously decided in favour of a completely homogenous surface, without any texture and even with a through-coloured core, so we could work with mitre joints. This resulted in a pure-white counter that conveys a sense of trust and professionalism, and which should not be missing among all the natural elements.” Also the inner frames of the cupboards in the patient wards and the protruding white perpendicular elements in parts of the hallways were designed with Pfleiderer products. “Such laminates are also so popular in this sector because they are extraordinarily resistant to impact and scratches. “We were also able to meet all the B1 fire protection requirements with these products without any problems.”

The design concept developed by HDR was used on all floors of the building. In this way, a new physiotherapy facility was built in the basement, a neurology ward with 32 beds on the third floor, a general internal medical ward with 31 beds on the fourth floor and an area for outpatient surgery with three operating rooms and a clinical doctor’s service on the fifth floor and, finally, the sixth floor was used for the building services plant and machinery.

“As architects, we are very happy that we are able to realise such unusual design concepts in the health sector thanks to the numerous options that these laminates offer us with their variety of decors and structures”, said Ms Vorschütz. “We have been working with products from Pfleiderer for many years and we are always delighted with their high quality and easy workability.”