Exploring the untapped nexus of ethics and health facility design
Architecture inherently reflects the normative preferences of its time. This certainly applies to healthcare architecture, where design concepts have intentional and decades-long effects on patients, families, and staff. Employing healthcare architecture to alter behaviors, mediate interpersonal interactions, and affect patient outcomes make it an ethical matter. We propose that advances in design science and our understanding of its powerful effects warrant a shift in how we think about space, and that the built environment in healthcare is analogous to a medical intervention. As such, all responsible stakeholders should openly discuss and thoroughly scrutinize the intentional use of the built environment to affect perceptions and change behaviors of patients, residents to a similar standard as conventional medical therapies. We highlight prominent examples of such architectural interventions, analyze their implementation, and offer perspective on how medicine and architecture can create ethically responsible spaces.