Jan Devyr Lernbring’s memories from the Lillhagen of the past stand in stark contrast to what he experiences today when being treated on Östra Hospital’s psychiatric ward, which White Arkitekter helped to design. Here, the traditional conventions have been done away with in the design of an open and unrestricted environment characterised by tranquillity and light. At the same time, the psychiatric ward is no longer isolated, but now integrated with the rest of the hospital.
“For several years, people have been calling into question the traditional way of building psychiatric wards. In the past, the wards were hidden away – undoubtedly with the best intentions. However, together with the depiction of psychiatric wards in films and TV series as sterile, depressing and prison-like places, it has contributed to stigmatising people with mental disorders. And the stigmatisation actually counteracts the treatment,” says Cristiana Caira, Lead Architect at White Arkitekter.
“Both Swedish and international research shows that the therapeutic environment can be crucial to the treatment of mental disorders,” she says. In fact, research from Chalmers University of Technology shows that the right interior design can reduce both the use of physical restraint on psychiatric wards as well as the number of sick days among employees.