Archive for the ‘design for health’ Category
We have explained how the Cause Health movement is focused on health assets rather than health deficits. The creation of thoughtfully developed and integrated artwork is a tangible celebration of this salutogenic point of view.
Our approach to incorporating art at Sechelt Hospital on the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia demonstrates both a healthy process and a healthy result. This art brings to life the rich history, culture, legends and spirit of the First Nations shishalh people. We conceived of three major installations by local artists that would radiate messages of healing, protection and collaboration.
These works consist of a lobby sunburst mural, exterior entrance totem poles, and memorable elevator lobby symbols. Together they bring meaning, special identity and recognition that highly emotional life events happen here.
This holistic approach earned an international award for use of art in the patient environment at the 10th Annual Design and Health World Congress.
Drawing on the talents of Coast Salish shishalh people who first settled here thousands of years ago, the theme of healing was essential not only in relation to the hospital but also with regard to the First Nations’ painful history on this particular land. Generations of disease and misguided government policies, including hardship specifically related to hospital’s site, had taken a devastating toll. However, the Salish shishalh have moved forward to rebuild and heal painful memories. At a recent public ceremony to celebrate the unveiling of these completed artworks to the community, carver Tony Paul said that the totems convey messages of welcoming and healing, “Not just healing our health, but also healing our people.”
The poles at the entrance tell stories that connect the physical and spiritual worlds. A 50′ x 20′ sculptural sunburst mural was created by artist Shain Jackson who explains, ‘The Canoe People represent community; when others paddle with you in a canoe it is acknowledged that you are headed to the same place and devoted to the same goal.”
Young artists from the community were involved from start to finish in order to learn the entire process: from working with administrators and architects, to presenting and quoting on the work, to fabrication and installation.
Sechelt Hospital (originally St. Mary’s Hospital) has been listed as the 10th most environmentally friendly hospital in the world; the only one selected from Canada. This LEED Gold certified project also recently won a SAB Canadian Green Building Award. It was designed with the goal of becoming North America’s first carbon-neutral hospital.
– Sharon VanderKaay
project: St. Mary’s Hospital, Farrow in association with Perkins + Will Architects
mural photography: Latreille & Delage
Recently I led a Jane’s Walk which looked at a wide range of settings in terms of how they make us feel and why.
My message was that our daily visual diet affects our state of mind. We can make better choices as individuals and as a society if we become better critics.
During my walk I mentioned that “building beloved places is a sustainability issue.” Up to 40% of solid waste in landfills comes from construction debris. If we aim to build places that are love-worthy, they will not be destined for demolition. Our recent SAB Magazine article explores this idea in more detail.
Everyone has a different “Love List.” I’ve noted in the slides above some of my reasons for choosing these particular places.
What places do you love in your city?
– Sharon VanderKaay
1. They give us fresh perspective on the city. (Union Square, San Francisco)
2. They bring diverse people together. (The High Line, New York City)
3. They are a great place to eat lunch. (Vancouver Art Gallery)
4. You can be both alone and part of a group. (Pioneer Square, Portland, OR)
5. Your friends can more easily find you. (Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC)
6. They motivate you to study. (Ryerson Student Centre, Toronto)
7. They mix formal with informal. (Four Seasons Centre, Toronto) (photo source)
8. Some combine ramps + stairs (“stramps”). (Robson Square, Vancouver)
9. They are a perfect venue for your brass band. (Philosopher’s Walk, Toronto)
10. You might see a pillow fight or Spider Man on a very early Spring day. (City Hall, Toronto)
Public reaction to big new development schemes tends to focus on taste (likes and dislikes) or issues such as whether the style fits with that of nearby buildings. When a new “artist’s concept” appears in the media, what questions spring to mind?
Our questions might include: Is it a bold optimistic statement about the future…or a giant oppressive sculpture that will loom over us? Will it feed our souls, or make us feel less human?
What if we always asked an even bigger question: How healthy is this proposed scheme?
Such a fundamental question raises the issue of how the development will affect our state of mind and whether it will nurture human connections.
In terms of creating a long term ecological asset, it’s not enough to simply aim for technical sustainability. We must now assess the potential impact on sustaining and nurturing us as humans.
This means seeing big development schemes as they affect our total health—ranging from creating a cultural and social asset, to stimulating our brains and revitalizing our spirit.
It’s time to get beyond superficial criteria in evaluating developer and architect-proposed schemes. If what we build is not beloved today, it is at risk of being landfill tomorrow.
– Sharon Vanderkaay
To promote walking, streets need to be interesting as well as physically accessible. This collection of examples illustrate different approaches to adding art and artistry to everyday walking experiences.
Margie Zeidler and Paul Bedford lead one of Toronto’s 139 Jane’s Walks last weekend. Revitalized buildings such as 401 Richmond are irreplaceable public health assets.
Rarely is heritage preservation talked about as a mental health issue. Yet during the Jane’s Walk I convened last Sunday, “How Healthy is This Place: A Visual Critique,” participants felt that visual connections to the past, and layers of natural evolution (v. sudden mass re-development) affected their state of mind. They also saw the positive health benefits of “weathered” natural imperfection, spontaneity and real human emotion.
In other words, they cared about a “visual diet” that includes variety consisting of both new and revitalized places that connect with street life and nature.
By contrast, we can feel disoriented, alienated and even depressed in settings that are anonymous and lacking emotional attachment.
A visual diet of empty calories causes dis-ease
Heritage preservation makes us feel part of something bigger than ourselves. Links to meaningful stories are an antidote to urban alienation. And as one of my walk participants pointed out, there is a growing body of research indicating that our brains benefit from the stimulation of authenticity, variety, nature, vitality and a sense of legacy.
Thumbs up to these Jane’s Walk participants who provided all the insightful content for my experimental format, based on two basic questions:
What do you see? How does that make you feel?
– Sharon VanderKaay
One of the big ideas promoted by Jane’s Walk is that anyone can lead a walk. More and more citizens–who may or may not be licensed designers–are now engaged in talking about qualities that contribute to healthy urban habitats. This increase in awareness is changing what people expect from their visual environment.
I hope that the walk I’m organizing for May 4 will encourage participants to get in the habit of asking, “How healthy is this place?” To help us sharpen our critical eyes, I created the (very informal) diagnostic scorecard above. Please join me as we analyse these ingredients and how they affect our state of mind and ultimately our state of health.
WalkShop: Health and the City took place at the bustling Centre for Social Innovation Annex (below).
My proposed “walking conversation” will be around the question, “How healthy is this place?” We will gather at the corner of Bloor St West and University, then proceed west toward Bathurst St. Together we’ll analyze therapeutic visual elements such as vitality, variety, nature, legacy and cultural connections. I hope to raise awareness for visual health through questions and bits of research regarding brain health in the city.
My Jane’s Walk idea stems from having created this video: “Salutogenic Places,” as well as years of leading facilitated Critical Eye (visual literacy) sessions.
These walks began in Toronto in 2007 as a tribute to the memory of urban activist Jane Jacobs. Now a global movement, they have spread to 85 cities in 19 countries. Several aspects of Jane’s Walk keep her spirit of neighbourhood awareness and advocacy alive:
- an informal, hands on, social way to explore and analyze elements that make places livable
- builds on shared, first-hand knowledge rather than experts and theory
- largely self-organized and globally contagious requiring a minimum amount of promotion
And lest we forget, World Labyrinth Day is May 3 with a corresponding Jane’s Walk.
– Sharon VanderKaay
Rarely does a design project begin with a well understood “higher purpose” statement that addresses how it intends to feed our psyche.
The purpose of both art and architecture as depicted in Alain de Botton’s recent book Art as Therapy should be “to help us lead better lives–to access better versions of ourselves.”
The needs of our psyche in de Botton and Armstrong’s view include (paraphrased):
– to remember what matters
– to see the hopeful side of life
– to gain perspective
– to amplify our best qualities
– to understand what we are most proud of
– to discover missing bits of ourselves as individuals
– to see how the imperfect can be attractive
– to see the things that affect us (but are not noticed)
The authors say we need better critics who will help us practice Enlightened Capitalism. That is, society needs more people who help us make choices that are in line with the true needs of our psyches.
de Botton previously wrote The Architecture of Happiness, which I summarized in the post “Design for Empathy.”
– Sharon VanderKaay
What if our health became the basis for judging every public space, every building, every workplace and every home?
What if we always asked: How healthy is this place?
There’s no such thing as a neutral space. What we build either causes health or erodes our capacity to thrive.
For specific examples of how design causes health or causes dis-ease, we created this video:
“Salutogenic Places: Designed to Thrive” Five vital signs that add up to design that causes health
– Sharon VanderKaay