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Kristina Sahlqvist

Kristina Sahlqvist, researcher in design at the School of Design and Crafts (HDK), explores the connection between environment and rehabilitation. According to her, a carefully considered architecture and design can contribute to more efficient care and shorter duration of health care.
Sahlqvist has – along with the designer Pamela Lindgren and a team at Sahlgrenska – developed a concept concerning health care environment, furniture and aids at a rehabilitation ward in Högsbo.
But what concrete impact does the hospital environment actually have on people?

– New research shows that a carefully considered architecture and design increase patients' chances of recovery, both physically and psychologically. The spacial envirnoment has, quite simply, an affect on our brains. An enrichment of spacial and sensory stimulating experiences can contribute to an improved rehabilitation process and facilitate long-term well-being for us.

How does one design a good rehabilitation ward?
– It centers around stimulating towards training and social interaction between patients and relatives as well as health care staff. This is to say that the dominance of sealed off hospital corridors should be broken and there should be open rooms with both active and restfully sensory-stimulating content, such as outlooks towards nature and light, gardens and outdoor environment. One example of this is that in our concept we provide the rehabiliation ward with a special "heart" where patients and relatives can cook food and eat together. This contributes to a less dramatized way of relating to one's loved ones in the hospital environment.

Tell us about your work with the objects in the hospital environment!
– I have, along with the designer Pamela Lindgren, also created special products for the rehabilitation ward in Högsbo. We have designed new furniture, redesigned existing furniture and designed aids. We have at the same time, along with researchers at Textilhögskolan, developed and designed "smart textiles", i.e. technology-carrying textiles. Examples of such are a plaid and a muff that emit warmth, a cardigan with built-in earphones and a soft bracelet that also serves as a remote control.

How do you cooperate with regional health care?
– First of all, we have sought to make use of the entire staff competence at Sahlgrenska's rehabilitation ward in Högsbo. Neurologists, rehabilitation physicians, nurses, psychologists, occupational therapists and physical therapists have all contributed in the work. Secondly, this research is part of a project called Design with Care. For the last ten years this has been run by Region Västra Götaland and the ambition is to generally both increase the supply and the demand within design for a sustainable environment.

What are your hopes for the future within this research area?
– That one in a cross-disciplinary context of culture and health seriously should be able to develop and design new health care and hospital environments. At the same I would like to see that one with knowledge from basic medical research on enriched environment effects on the brain and with the aid of evidence-based design should be able to create rehabilitating environments and aids better equiped for patients, staff and relatives.

Personal facts

Employment: researcher at HDK, the School of Design and Crafts, University of Gothenburg. Subject areas: design of rooms and sustainable development
Family: four children and three grandchildren
Research interests: neuroarchitecture, the connection between architecture and neuro science
Driving force: the will to improve people's living environment and prerequisites
Leisure interests: my family, friends, art and architecture. My garden, nature, roaming the mountains and kayaking

Read more: Here you can delve deeper into Kristina Sahlqvist's research work on environment and rehabilitation: www.designforus.com/KU_rapporten.pdf

[Interview by Daniel Brodén and published 2012-03-19]

Contact Information

Centre for Culture and Health

Box 200, 405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden

Page Manager: Lovisa Aijmer|Last update: 3/17/2012

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Utskriftsdatum: 2020-07-10