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Reimagining healthcare design with cocreation


Who’s best suited to design a new healthcare facility? A team of architects or its users? At MVSA we believe that the answer is simple; both. 

By actively collaborating with users at every stage of design, we’ve seen amazing results. Cocreation lets us fuse the needs of our users with the inspiration of our team to create something truly unique. This active process of co-designing facilities gives our team unique insight and it gives the users ownership of the project’s future.

We understand that, whilst our technical skills and inspiration are unmatched, it’s the user who has the best insight as to what is needed. Their input lets us create designs which are more efficient and effective for users. 

The MVSA team has used our co-designing principles on many projects, both within healthcare and outside too. One that we’re proud of is the Haga Hospital in The Netherlands. 



Healing at its heart

HagaZiekenhuis has fully embraced the Planetree healthcare philosophy which places the focus on the patient in healthcare. By personalizing, demystifying, and humanizing the whole patient experience, HagaZiekenhuis can give benefits to patients, visitors and staff.

The Planetree philosophy delivers real benefits to patients in faster recovery times, lower anxiety and a greater sense of well-being. We also see lower rates of absence and higher levels of motivation for staff in environments with these principles at their core.

The design for the new building is shaped like a figure eight with two living atria at their heart. Each atrium was of a different size, for children and adults. The indoor gardens within the atriums are home to scented plants like lavender, which contribute to the wellbeing of the medical staff, patients and visitors. By covering the two atria with transparent glass, daylight flows deep into the building. This gives the building a light, airy feel whilst contributing to the recovery of the patients.



Better results together

Central to the design process were focus groups featuring patients, nurses and doctors. We worked with twenty user groups, in ten, two hours sessions per group. 

Our sessions covered a huge range of very complex and deep issues including everything from logistics to the exact dimension of patient rooms. This presented a challenge in that our participants aren’t architects, so reading drawings and visuallising them isn’t something they’ve had experience with.

The MVSA team, as ever, adapted and brought all kinds of tools to bear to help our participants enjoy the focus groups as well as encouraging them to give honest feedback. Using 3D models, recreating rooms layouts, custom visuals and even introducing some role-playing games brought a different dimension to the sessions.  This really enabled us to get the best from everyone and helped the attendees take ownership through the codesign process.  

With in our early brainstorming sessions it was apparent that we needed to move away from the traditional enclosed spaces so often seen in old healthcare environments.

These sessions led the MVSA team to design the wards with clear division between the staff workspaces and the private space for patients and visitors. These greatly help with recovery speed and results. The adult rooms also benefit from outside views, whilst children always have a corridor view to keep them in contact with their surroundings.

We also included a communal play area which can be easily accessed by younger patients. This gives them a place to play and meet other children and to encourage them to come out of their rooms. 

The detailed, open collaboration of the users within our codesign proved invaluable in deciding and designing these defining features of the structure. 



We even called our friends

MVSA knows that child-friendly environments can have a really positive impact on younger patients. An environment which engages them to distract from their predicament can great reduce stress, anxiety and even the perception of pain. 

All of this helps the children heal more quickly whilst making the whole experience more positive.

To help make the best environment possible, we asked our friends at the experience design agency Tinker Imagineers to help. They made an amazing moving storyline for the Juliana Kinderziekenhuis. This included five cuddly characters called Hugg, Happy, Fold, C-bot and Fizzle for the children. These guys come to life all around the children in unique, animated wall projections. They accompany children throughout their ‘adventure’, making them laugh and distracting them from what’s happening around them.

Haga Hospital was a uniquely fulfilling experience for all of us and we’re proud of the building we created. It also showed that design in healthcare should evolve beyond traditional ideas. By empowering patients, doctors and nurses to work with our design team, we cocreated an environment which is giving real benefits to users every day.

Taking a user-centred approach and developing a co-designing philosophy delivers results which exceed expectations. This evolution is design research and principles are redefining the design practice and opening up new sources of inspiration. We can’t wait to see how cocreation will develop and the changes it will make to all of our lives in the future. 


Reimagining healthcare design with cocreation