The perception of the architectural spaces we inhabit, on a one-off or continuous basis, plays a key role in the emotions and sensations we experience in those places. A holistic and humanistic approach to this aspect, applied to hospital spaces, reveals the inclusion of artistic practices in healthcare facilities as a therapeutic, powerful and transformative tool that can be a good companion to architectural design. Our well-being associated with certain spaces depends on the use of space, natural light, textures, colours, etc. Contact with artistic pieces and creative processes also connects us with an intimate, sensory world, which benefits our interaction with the space. Art promotes a sense of well-being in spaces that are often a witness to complex emotions. In this context, art becomes another supportive healing tool in hospitals.

Quironsalud University Hospital Madrid

Quironsalud University Hospital Madrid, Enero Arquitectura. Photograph by Jorge Allende.


Culture and health in hospital spaces

There is an effort to integrate not only art pieces into hospital spaces but also various art practices into medical protocols. In this way, multiple cultural actions, curated for patients in hospitals, help in the process of humanisation.

The healing capacity of art in different aspects of life has been amply demonstrated and is increasingly being integrated into healthcare spaces. Within the humanisation plans to welcome and create friendlier spaces for patients, artistic practices are sometimes added to these environments. In some cases, interior spaces are conceived from their first sketches to house art pieces or are even direct collaborations with artists, as in the case of Mayanna von Ledebur in the epilepsy care residence of Atelier .

On other occasions, artistic pieces form part of the interior design content of selected spaces within the hospital architecture. The placement of the pieces is strategic, and in many cases they contribute in multiple formats by connecting nature through interpretations by artists, illustrators and photographers. In Enero Arquitectura’s Proton Therapy Centre we find different nature scenes in a key, welcoming place: the main entrance. The first impression at the entrance is associated with both the materiality of the architecture and the representation of landscapes in movement. Another example of a piece placed at the entrance is at Cordoba’s Quironsalud Hospital by Enero Arquitectura.


Quironsalud Proton Therapy Centre

Quironsalud Proton Therapy Centre, Enero Arquitectura. Photograph by Jorge Allende.


Other spaces in hospitals are key for the time patients spend during their care, such as patient rooms and common areas, essential for socialising. In addition, artistic elements also help facilitate orientation in the centres. Each space can be recognised by artwork that functions as a visual landmark.

Examples of the use of art in healthcare settings in hospitals

One area where the use of art in healthcare spaces has a particular impact is in hospital paediatrics. Architecture is a therapeutic tool to accompany children in their time spent in hospital centres. Through the incorporation of illustration and art, we can help to reduce children’s stress, encourage play and social interaction. Playful images accompany these little patients and make them feel like it’s their own space. Hospital humanisation is the process that comprehensively addresses the well-being of the patient, considering the whole individual in biological, psychological, social and behavioural dimensions. An example of this humanisation through playful spaces with illustrations specially designed for children is the Maternity and Children’s Wing of the Quironsalud University Hospital Madrid in Pozuelo de Alarcón by Enero Architectura. The aim was to stimulate children’s positive emotions and integration into the hospital environment through play and creating dream worlds for the little ones. Another area where progress is being made especially in creating more friendly environments is the delivery room. The use of colour, specific furnishings and comforting imagery as well as a patient-friendly layout can transform the experience for mothers. The incorporation of these types of elements not only responds to an aesthetic will. Multiple studies support that including colours and comforting elements help in recovery and incorporate the humanisation of spaces as another element of design


Maternity and Children’s Wing of the Quironsalud University Hospital Madrid in Pozuelo de Alarcón

Maternity and Children’s Wing of the Quironsalud University Hospital Madrid in Pozuelo de Alarcón, Enero Arquitectura. Photograph by Jorge Allende

Some organisations are working to bring culture into hospital spaces. For example, the Cultura en Vena Foundation, the (H)Arte Foundation and the Believe In Art Association. Ambulatory Art is a programme of travelling exhibitions in hospitals and rural communities at risk of depopulation. Through various projects, cultural and artistic practices have been incorporated into the healthcare environment. From concerts to exhibitions in hospital spaces. These practices create new synergies between collaborating artists, patients and their families, and healthcare and administrative staff, thereby enriching the healthcare ecosystem. The aim is to create a cultural experience in places where it doesn’t usually occur.