LNAK10062U Health Design

Volume 2024/2025

MSc Programme in Landscape Architecture


Health Design is a problem- and knowledge-based studio course, which explores theories and practice of health design in the context of landscape architecture and will give an increased insight into the importance of natural environments for human health and well-being. Based on international literature, research papers and relevant reference cases the course will give a perspective on:

  • The concept of Health Design
  • Explanatory models on the interaction between outdoor environments and human health
  • The development and application of Evidence-Based Health Design in Landscape Architecture (EBHDL) process model
  • Presentation and application of health promoting design tools.
  • 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 design of outdoor environments in institutional settings
  • Health supportive characteristics of outdoor environments and health promoting outdoor activities in both public and institutional settings
  • Theories on health supportive mechanisms concerning natural environments and nature-based activities

All over the world there is an increasing interest in research results and experiences from practice concerning 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 a new discovery but as a rediscovery or confirmation of a notion that has been considered quite self-evident for thousands of years.

Today, the 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 natural environments as a health factor both for improvement of ill health and promotion of good health.

Learning Outcome

The main aim of the course is to train the students’ abilities to design natural environments that positively will affect the visitors’ health.


  • Understand and explain the relation between human health and natural environments.
  • Understand and explain theories (environmental psychology, landscape architecture and architecture) relevant to designing health promoting natural environments for user groups with varying needs, abilities, and preferences.
  • Understand how to, based on evidence, design a health supporting natural environment.


  • Apply the process model ‘Evidence-Based Health Design in Landscape Architecture (EBHDL), including:
  • Identify, generate, and select relevant evidence regarding: Target group (e.g. scientific literature and interviews), Human health (e.g. scientific literature), Environment (e.g. landscape analyses and reference cases) and Use of nature (e.g. observations and interviews).
  • Write a program (evidence, design criteria and design solutions) with evidence-based arguments for a health supporting design.
  • Design a health supporting institutional or open green space for a specific patient/target group based on the program, including conceptualizations, masterplan, and visualizations.


  • Work independently and self-directed in a project work.
  • Cooperate efficiently and communicatively in group work.
  • Be able to independently design health promoting natural environments for different target groups.
  • Apply the course theories, design tools and the EBHDL process model to related subjects in other courses and projects.

See Absalon for a list of course litterature.

Examples of main literature:

Cooper Marcus, C & Barnes, M. 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.

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

Health Design is a Master level design studio course of the landscape architecture programme, and therefore academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree of landscape architecture is strongly recommended. Skills in spatial understanding, scale, design, illustration techniques and visual communication are essential for the course.
A number of different methods will be used in the teaching; lectures, field trips, exercises, literature seminars, student presentations, peer-assessments, and an individual project work.
- Lectures will be held as basis for theoretical as well as practical 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 sketch presentations.
- Peer-feedback will be actively used as a formative assessment mean during the course.
- The individual project work runs through the whole course. The project work will end up in one product, consisting of three integratedparts: A written academic thesis, application of the Evidence-Based Health Design in Landscape Architecture process model, a master plan and visualizations.
The students will develop or redesign an institutional or public natural environment for a specific user group. The students will select the cases and user groups they prefer to work with.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 40
  • Preparation
  • 207
  • Practical exercises
  • 65
  • Excursions
  • 50
  • Guidance
  • 50
  • Total
  • 412
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Oral examination, 25 min
Type of assessment details
The written assignment: The individual project work (max. 20 A4 pages), consists of three integrated parts; an academic thesis, application of the EBHDL process model, master plan and visualizations. At the oral exam, the students must prepare a 15 minute presentation using e.g. PowerPoint or posters. After the students’ presentation, the examiners ask questions related to the written assignment and the oral presentation. A combined grade is given after the oral exam. The written assignment must be handed in prior to the exam week and the oral exam is without preparation.
The written assignment must be submitted in physical form and in Digital Exam (3d-models, sketchbooks and logbooks are exempted). The format of the physical submission must follow the instructions of the teacher.

The assignment will not be graded if not submitted on time in Digital Exam.
Exam registration requirements

- Participate in the sketch presentation
- Participate in the literature seminar


Written aids allowed

Written aids allowed.
At the oral exam the students are allowed to look into their project rapports, notes and other relevant literature.  

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship

Students who have not met the initial Exam Registration Requirements must submit a written literature overview concluding in design guidelines and a sketch presentation prior to the re-examination.

Students must contact the course responsible prior to the re-examination and submit their projects a week before the re-examinations. The procedure and evaluation criteria are equal to the ordinary exam. The written assignment may be the same one as used at the ordinary examination.  

The assignment must be submitted in physical form and in Digital Exam (3d-models, sketchbooks and logbooks are exempted). The format of the physical submission must follow the instructions of the teacher. The assignment will not be graded if not submitted on time in Digital Exam.



Criteria for exam assesment

See learning outcome.