As evidence about the benefits of the right environment accumulates in the design industry, healthcare architects around the world are starting to incorporate features into hospital design that reduce stress and promote healing.  If they are doing this to help their clients, imagine what you can do by taking the right measures in the design of your office?

At Perkins+Will we have seen a gradual rise in healthcare organisations across the Middle East taking into consideration findings from studies across environmental psychology, geography, sociology, architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, nursing, medicine and public health that demonstrate how patient-centric design can reduce stress and alleviate the physical outcomes associated with it. These considerations in design alterations can also prevent medical errors and hospital acquired infections.

At Perkins+Will we have always had a strong focus on the end user of our projects and we always consider the level of wellness we can provide. This type of design within the healthcare department is called ‘patient-centric’ and this approached was used when designing the new Kings College Hospital (KCH) in Dubai, UAE.

The Project

King College Hospital is a new specialised facility focusing on four centres of excellence: obstetrics and gynecology, Pediatrics, Orthopedics, Endocrinology (diabetes) and liver transplants.  Centrally located in Dubai, between downtown Marina to the south and the Financial District to the north, this site has a prominent presence and the potential to create a strong architectural identity for both the KCH and its developer, Dubai Hills Estate Development. Care was taken with positioning the hospital as we wanted to clearly seen from Marabea Street so visitors can easily find there way. This position meant we were able to capitalise on a wide range of views of the Dubai skyline, which was perfect for our patient-centric approach to the development.

Patient-centric Design

The hospital is designed, in its entirety, to consider the patient experience, from the moment the patient arrives to moment they complete their treatment and leave KCH while ensuring a high level of sustainability. Protection from the harsh sun is provided through multiple means, such as self-shading exterior façades, multiple soaring canopies surrounding the building and sheltered gardens. At the entrance, a fountain provides a cooling effect while multiple lush gardens at ground level provide needed shade. The development is capped by a roof garden accessible to the public, patients and staff where it is planned to include areas for rehabilitation and relaxation.

There are plenty key healing features we have incorporated into the design of KCH as follows:


Outside of the consideration for patient-led design, it is important to consider the external environment. Perkins+Will endeavor to fit our designs into their particular surroundings, considering culture, climate and surrounding buildings. The brief given for this project was to create something with a modern feel yet in keeping with the site’s landscape, including the skyline, nature and surrounding buildings. The exterior draws inspiration from the natural beauty of the desert and the façade is an interpretation of the shading effect generated by the textured landscape of wind-blown sand. This texture has been abstracted as an architectural expression wrapping the hospital and providing self-shading and aid in direct solar exposure.


We have worked on the premise of using a thermal mass façade to control solar gain and cooling, reducing air conditioning consumption needs. We have considered solar orientation and detail to include LED lighting and natural shading.

Increased Connection to Nature

Studies have shown as little as three minutes of contact with nature significantly reduces stress, anger and fear. For KCH we have built in windows with landscape and downtown skyline views in each room, so every single patient has access to increasing levels of natural light, in turn inducing calmness. In addition, particularly with the pediatric ward we have included artwork into the design of the walls to create texture and nature designs on the ceilings in the form of back-lit stretch fabrics.


From the moment you arrive at KCH you are able to easily navigate through distinct signage and key landmarks within the hospital. To create a feeling of control this element is important for patients, staff and visitors alike.

Use of Space

We have included multiple green spaces for proven improvement to mood and shorter hospital stays. We have designed a stunning garden within the hospital ground and made use of the rooftop to include a vegetable garden to aid the rehabilitation for dexterity patients.

Environmental Control

Giving patients a sense of control can significantly decrease stress. In our design of KCH we have enabled each patient to control their own in-room environment. We have created an area where patients are able to control everything from lighting, sound and temperature to when they would like their meals and what they would like to eat. All of these components are centrally controlled by a handset attached to the patient’s bed.

Safety and Infection Control

Paramount to healing, combined with global best practice and conformity to DHA standards, everything from surfaces to air control is considered in our design.

Positive Diversion

An example of nature based artwork found in a classroom

When healing it is important to create positive and calming distractions for patients. This can include nature inside the building, play areas, overhead back-lit screens, nature based artwork-which we integrate as part of the overall design. Family spaces and common rooms plus calming outside spaces can be maximised for use during the cooler months. Positive diversion works for patients, visitors and staff with an overall positive calming effect.


It has been proven that visits from family and friends promotes healing. To this end we have ensured we have catered to visitors comfort providing rooms, which can accommodate visitors comfortably, a sofa which converts to a bed and commonspaces with amenities to the needs of comfort.

If design is proven to promote healing time, therefore reducing overheads and increasing customer satisfaction for the hospital, just imagine what it can do for other businesses…

For more information on how businesses can use design in fluctuating markets read our article here.



Stas Louca

Director of Architecture and Middle East Healthcare