Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Same Handed Design

Metro Health Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan is a LEED registered facility that includes same-handed design in the rooms. Patient rooms look out onto the green roof below.

I've been traveling quite a bit these days and staying in different places. One of the challenges of leaving a familiar space is that you have to relearn basics, like where the light switch is located, or where the toilet paper rolls resides. Seems small, until you're fumbling about in the middle of the night or dropping a glass on the floor cause there's a table next to your bed at home. Simple tasks—locating silverware and plates, tv remotes and dishsoap—can add up throughout the day. I realize how habitual a daily routine becomes. We function without thinking, knowing intuitively where things go.

One of the things cropping up in interior design, especially in the healthcare field, is the idea of same-handed rooms. In most buildings—like hospitals and hotels—rooms are mirror images of one another so that they can share a wall of internal infrastructure, such as plumbing. It's cheaper that way. In same-handed facilities, however, every room is exactly the same. So when a nurse moves from one room to the next, all materials and supplies are located in precisely the same spot. There's no need to relearn or remember where you are.