Beyond insulation and isolation: Towards an attuning approach to noise in hospitals

Marie Koldkjær Højlund


Most research on the acoustic environment in the modern Western hospital identifies raised noise levels as the main causal explanation for ranking noise as a critical stressor for patients, relatives and staff. Therefore, the most widely used strategies to tackle the problem in practice are insulation and isolation strategies to reduce measurable and perceptual noise levels. However, these strategies do not actively support the need to feel like an integral part of the shared hospital environment, which is a key element in creating healing environments, according to the paradigm of Evidence-Based Design and Healing Architecture. This article suggests that the gap in contemporary research is intimately linked to a reductionist framework underlying the field, which is incapable of accommodating the multisensory and atmospheric conditions amplifying the experience of noise. This article argues that an attuning approach should be included in the field to help bridge the gap by offering active ways of attuning to the shared environment.

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ISSN: 1904-500X

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