Addressing adolescent healthcare environment through responsive architecture : a youth and community health centre for Durban.
Architecture has the capacity to have either a positive or negative impact on its users. Designing architecture which is responsive to the needs of its users is therefore of import and is particularly relevant to healthcare environments which rely on the built environment to provide spaces which promote healing and foster spaces which cater for patients’ physical, psychological and social health needs. However, the importance which architecture holds beyond facilitating functional spaces is often overlooked which has implications on the patients who tend to feel more miserable and uncomfortable in these environments, thereby affecting their healing processes. This is of particular concern to adolescent patients as they fall into a transitional stage of development during which, they experience biological, psychological and social changes which impact their development, decision making and life trajectory. As adolescents may present needs which differ from the child or adult patient, providing healthcare environments which are responsive to their specific needs is therefore necessary to maximize healing and ensure quality healthcare. The purpose of this study is therefore to explore how architecture which is responsive to the adolescent patient can be fully utilised towards creating a healthcare environment which promotes holistic wellbeing. The theoretical framework is made up of socio-developmental theories, environmental psychology theories and place theories, which together with the literature, relevant precedents and case studies highlight the connection between the physical, spatial, social and personal environments of the adolescent patient and healing. A qualitative research methodology approach is taken from a phenomenological perspective, as the research focuses on the experiences and interpretations of participants. Participants include built environment professionals experienced in designing healthcare facilities, healthcare professionals who have provided care to adolescents and young adults and adolescents who have utilised healthcare facilities during their adolescence. Research instruments include interviews which use imagery to convey ideas and which allows for the adolescents to express their own ideas through illustrations. The analysis of research findings further cement ideas brought forward in the theoretical frameworks, literature, precedents and case studies, using the concept of healing and sub-concepts of symbiotic architecture, responsive architecture and generative architecture, as means to connect these aspects. Cumulatively, these inform design guidelines which present ways in which healthcare environments can consider the physical, social and psychological needs of the adolescent patient, towards a youth and community health centre.