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Project Book PDF (700 Kb)
  Open Chicago

Restorative Spaces for Work,
Health and Community           

In responding to the alarming social need in the health services area, Archeworks worked to learn the cause of the shortage of health professionals and identify design methods and prototype environments to address the issues. Their goal was to develop a prototype restorative space that would improve staff morale and decrease staff turnover.

For the project, the team used three test sites for design research and implementation of design ideas. The sites included Christ Hospital, Bethany Hospital and the North Side Community Health Resource Facility (known as Community Health).

According to the American Hospital Association there are currently 126,000 unfilled nursing positions. Thus, the team sought to improve nursing retention by designing and building a prototypical restorative space that would flex according to the many needs of a diverse staff. This strategy was derived from quantitative/qualitative user-based research by a professional team of consultants studying the impact of the environment on retention and supplemented by our own observations in various clinical facilities.

The team designed a restorative space prototype that currently resides in the Archeworks studio. The team aimed to capitalize on the opportunity for design to support and create positive bio-feedback, enabling relaxation and rejuvenation. Thus, it is designed with particular sensitivity to the impact of light and color within the space. The prototype also facilitates restorative activities such as rest, concentrated work, and social interaction in a space that is a comfortable enclosure for one or many. Materials were chosen to counteract the highly industrial and impersonal character of most hospitals. Cabinetry was constructed in modular units to create the opportunity for customization within the space and to emphasize that each group of health care workers can tailor the environment to their collective needs and desires. This tangible idea creates and promotes a general work environment that fosters retention.

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