contact maria lorena lehman

send your message

Thank you! Your submission has been received!

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form

special encore webinar presentation

Register for the FREE Special Encore Webinar Presentation that will teach you three techniques for creating extraordinary design concepts that outsmart problem complexity.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE WEBINAR NOW

Using Design to Make the “Waiting Room” a Good Thing

By

Maria Lorena Lehman

|

Founder — Sensing Architecture ® Academy

Image Credit: © Marc oh! | Flickr

What Should People Do When They Wait?

How do you design for the function of waiting? Do your building occupants ever really wait? Typically, they move from one activity to another, but it is equally important to also design for those in-between moments. What happens during those “between” moments can really impact an occupant’s experience; thus, as a designer, you can make what goes on inside a waiting room a great experience.

Take hospitals, for instance. Once a patient has gone through the initial phase of “checking in”, then begins the often long and frequently boring wait. Unfortunately, many hospital designs don’t place an emphasis on providing for an optimal waiting area — and that is really a missed opportunity.

Just think of the things that could be accomplished and provided for patients, if only architects would give some serious thought to what patients actually need during this time. For example, within a hospital waiting room, patients could get views of nature or be surrounded by calming colors and pleasing sounds — thus, soothing patient anxiety and stress.

Another tactic that would help patients endure those long “waiting periods” involves giving thought to the arrangement and ergonomics of where they sit. Comfort while waiting is key, particularly for hospital patients who might be in a great deal of pain.

I have noticed that many waiting rooms incorporate televisions which play TV channels that patients can watch or listen to. In essence, this is a great idea — but what about those that don’t want to watch television, particularly when a waiting room only broadcasts news or other intense shows. It is important to realize that there is a difference between trying to distract a patient from boredom versus bombarding them with additional stressors.

Waiting Rooms Can Also Serve Other Functions

So, what can waiting rooms do? They can serve as buffer zones, transitional areas or even learning places — as they receive occupants coming from one place and then prepare them to go into the next. For example, hospital waiting rooms can serve all three of these functions at once.

Here are some examples:

  • provide patients with a place of comfort to sooth anxiety and stress
  • give patients a feeling of safety (knowing they will be receiving quality medical attention soon)
  • teach patients to come up with important questions while they wait (to ask their doctor once inside the ER)

Thus, waiting room areas can be an important link that makes your architectural design work more smoothly for your occupants. In reality, your occupants may spend a lot of time in these zones. If not designed properly, these areas could be your building’s weakest link — which could ultimately weigh down the success of your overall design.

Conversely, the design of your waiting room could be so successful that it becomes one of the strongest links in your design. Don’t underestimate the challenge involved in designing a good one.

...

what members are saying...
Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
read more testimonials
blog article categories

Maria Lorena Lehman is a visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

maria lorena lehman, as seen in...
featured posts
Video Micro-Lectures

How to Avoid this Common Architectural Technology Integration Mistake when Designing

When designing, how do you avoid this common architectural technology integration mistake? In this Micro-Lecture, you will learn three steps to help you holistically inject emerging technologies into the environments you design. These steps serve to heighten your project's sensory design performance for occupants.

Architectural Design

The Promise of Multi-Sensory Design to Solve for Your Project Challenges

A key to finding a design convergence point that solves for many of the challenges your project faces is to place your building occupants at the center, through multi-sensory design. From here, it becomes possible to innovate architectural experience while also overcoming the difficult project challenges that exist.

Architectural Design

The Gap between Your Creative Vision and Design Tools

As architects, often there is a gap between the vision for a building design and the existence of materials available with which it can be built. Yet, the gap between creative vision and creative tools is also just as important --- but in a different way.