LNAK10062U Health Design

Volume 2015/2016

MSc in Landscape Architechture


From an environmental psychology perspective the course will give an increased insight into the importance of outdoor environments for human quality of life e.g. comfort, health and well-being. Based on international literature, research papers and relevant cases the course will give a perspective on:

  • The concept of Health Design; origin, definition, and current status.
  • Explanatory models on the interaction between outdoor environments and human health.
  • Use, needs and preferences for different user groups (e.g. different age groups, patients etc.)
  • History, background, development and current status of health promoting city planning and of outdoor environments in institutional settings
  • Health promoting characteristics of outdoor environments and health promoting outdoor activities in both public and institutional settings.
  • Theories on healing mechanisms concerning healing gardens and horticultural therapy.
  • The concept of Universal Design (design for all), origin, definition, and current status.

All over the world there is an increasing interest in research results and practice experiences showing the impact of the physical environment on people’s health and well-being. The realization that good design, both indoors and outdoors, not only generates functional efficiency but also strengthens and improves health processes has given rise to a new branch of architecture, called Health Design. This should not be viewed as new discoveries but as rediscoveries or confirmation of a notion that has been considered quite self-evident for thousands of years.

Today, a majority of the world’s population lives in urban areas. As a result people in the industrialized world are living their everyday lives more and more distant to nature, spending much of their time indoors. Lifestyle changes related to this shift may be connected to the fast raise in obesity, heart diseases, diabetes II, osteoporosis, depression, stress and mental fatigue that we now also experience in the Scandinavian countries. An increasing number of decision-makers around the world find an advantage in focusing on factors that determine and influence health instead of on the diseases themselves. Such a health policy means a shift in perspective towards an approach that concentrates more on factors that stimulate people’s own health capacities. In this course we view nature as a health factor; both for improvement of ill health (healing gardens) and preservation and protection of good health (wild nature and urban green spaces).

Learning Outcome

After completing the course the student should have gained the following knowledge, skills and competences:


  • Seek, present and describe relevant theories (environmental psychology, landscape architecture and architecture) as relevant to the planning, development and understanding of health promoting outdoor environments.
  • Examine and analyse the varying needs, interests and preferences of different user groups with regard to health promoting outdoor environments, on the basis of gender, age, cultural context, social situation, diagnosis and functional disability.
  • Examine and analyse the advantages and disadvantages of the interaction between institutional outdoor environments and specific health care activities.
  • Describe in detail how an institutional health promoting outdoor environment may be designed for different user groups, e.g. small children, elderly people etc.
  • Present in detail practical and theoretical knowledge in the field of Health Design to professionals and lay people.


  • Improved understanding of the health promoting interaction between the patient, the environment and the activity.
  • Seek, read and analyse peer-reviewed scientific papers.
  • Use methods for analysing health qualities of institutional and public outdoor environments.
  • Write a program with evidence-based arguments for the design of a health improving institutional or public outdoor environment.
  • Design a health improving institutional or public outdoor environment for a specific patient/user group.
  • Present research, theories, analyses and design visions orally.


  • Work independently and self-directed in a project work.
  • Cooperate efficiently and communicatively in group work.
  • Apply the course theories to related subjects in other courses and projects.

Main literature will be:

Cooper Marcus, C & Barnes, M. 2013. Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Space. New York, John Wiley.

Kaplan, R., Kaplan S. & Ryan, R.L. 1998. With People in Mind. Design and management of everyday nature. Island Press, Washington D.C.

Further literature, primarily peer-reviewed papers, will be distributed and referred to.

As this is a design course knowledge and skills corresponding to at least one year participation in the landscape architecture program are required.
A number of different methods will be used in the teaching; lectures, field trips, exercises, literature seminars, student presentations, and an individual project work.
- Lectures will be held as basis for theoretical input.
- Field trips will take the students to specific outdoor environments relevant for the course theme.
- Exercises; the students will work individually or in small collaborative groups in order to develop their further understanding.
- The literature seminar will give the students the opportunity to find and read relevant research literature that will form the basis for their project work.
- Student presentations; some exercise results will be presented in the studio. Furthermore, the students will present the outcome of the literature seminar as well as their first project ideas and sketches at a sketch presentation.
- The individual project work runs through the whole course. The project work will end up in one product, consisting of two closely interrelated parts; one illustration plan and an evidence-based program. The goal is to develop or redesign an institutional or public environment for a specific user group. The case is individually selected by the students and can be an international case. Here, the students will transform all of their required knowledge into a detailed illustration plan. The design of the environment will be described and motivated for in the program.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam
  • 33
  • Excursions
  • 50
  • Guidance
  • 65
  • Lectures
  • 57
  • Practical exercises
  • 65
  • Project work
  • 142
  • Total
  • 412
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 30 min
Portfolio is to be understood as the individual project work - A Health Design Project. The project is orally presented at the exam.
Exam registration requirements

- Hand in the individual project work in time
- Participate in the sketch presentation
- Participate in the literature seminar

All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship

A written assigment is handed in prior to an oral exam, 20 minuttes.

Criteria for exam assesment

Quality of individual project work; design solution based on background knowledge regarding usergroup site/location conditions and Health Design therories

Understanding of course literature and basic theories

Oral presentation of the project work