Today’s Solutions: February 03, 2023

Communal gardens, landscaped rooftops, and wide-open windows aren’t features of your typical hospital—but maybe they should be. Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Singapore is a case study in what can happen when a nature-inspired design is applied to the medical setting to promote healing.

The hospital, which opened its doors in 2010 and now serves 800,000 residents in northern Singapore, has masked the smell of medicine and chemicals with over 700 species of fragrant native plants. In the lobby sounds of machines are drowned out by bird species in the central courtyard. And instead of walking through sterile white hallways, patients, caretakers, and the occasional butterfly navigate the space on outdoor bridges wrapped in greenery.

Beyond the greenery, the public hospital has also become a gathering place for more than just patients and their families. Local residents have been known to stop in to grab a coffee in the food court or read the paper in one of the property’s dozens of gardens. On top of that, Khoo Teck Puat has also added activity centers that anyone can join to do crafts, watch cooking demonstrations, and listen to talks on healthy living.

Now the question is: does all this greenery, natural light, and community actually help people become healthier? While there are no scientific studies to back this up, the hospital says that anecdotally, patients seem to appreciate the hospital’s unique design and are actually willing to pay more to go there than other hospitals in the area.

There’s also a small body of research showing greenery and natural light do aid in recovery. In any case, if you had to recover from illness, wouldn’t you want to heal in a green oasis?

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