Excessive Sunblock On Our Buildings, Myths, Unusual Insights, Issues and Solutions

Clinicians are increasingly concerned about the application of sunblock on our skin, effectively our “Body Envelope”, impacting on Vitamin D deficiencies, dental bone growth, prevention of auto-immune diseases, cancers, cardiovascular diseases, depression, anxiety, sleep loss, etc. As healthcare planners and designers we must be equally concerned about the Building Envelopes we design and the sunblock armoury of devices and specifications we have developed to minimise solar ingress.

Throughout history luminaries such as Homer, Plato and Pliny paid homage to the sun. Sun focused healing architecture varied from Spas, Sanatoriums, Revolving Patient Wards in City Hospital, Edinburgh, Papworth TB Shelters, Swiss Alps Child Sanatoria, Neonate Balconies in Berlin, highly glazed Nightingale Wards and a plethora of District General Hospitals offering bed patient access onto balconies, terraces and winter gardens.

Biophilic design is an innovative and rapidly growing design tool defining the essential dialogue between humans and the natural world. Our buildings increasingly interrupt this relationship. Natural elements such as sunlight have to navigate through transitional spaces, increasingly solar sophisticated, attenuating building skins, public to intimate spaces and finally absorbed through our individual sensory receptors. This exposure, in turn, affects our physiology, emotions, psychological disposition and ultimately our physical condition. This may be further alternated by illness and medication. Evidently, architecture has to deliver permeable design elements that allow this vital, beneficial and symbiotic dialogue to occur.

Evidence-Based Research clearly provides us with compelling data in terms of the true benefits of full spectrum, diurnal daylight. It is clearly an essential deliverable within the healthcare setting from Diagnostic, Treatment and Recovery spaces resulting in beneficial patient outcomes to all.