Hospital acoustics often fall by the wayside

In many older hospital buildings, noise is disruptive and continuous; for this reason, particular attention was paid to the acoustics in the new intensive and intermediate care unit in Seinäjoki, Finland.

According to a nationwide study, on average 55% of those working in healthcare would like to see improvements to the sound environment of working facilities. Good acoustics absorb disruptive sound and reverberance. This makes it easier to work and for patients to recover.

Jyrki Kilpikari, Concept Developer Healtcare, Saint-Gobain Ecophon Finland.

A particular requirement of hospital facilities is that all surfaces, from floor to ceiling, are hygienic and cleanable, meaning that standard acoustic solutions cannot be used. In the Seinäjoki unit, the walls are decorated with nature-themed, printed acoustic panels. In addition to absorbing sound, these also make the corridors and treatment rooms more visually appealing.

Finlands first

Finland’s first intensive and intermediate care unit comprising single-patient rooms promotes cooperation between healthcare staff and patient recovery. Saint-Gobain Ecophon served as one of the cooperation partners for the groundbreaking EVICURES project (read more about the project and download the report here).

Seinäjoki Central Hospital’s new 24-bed unit was opened for use in early April 2018. Intensive and intermediate care operations from all of the hospital’s specialist areas are concentrated in the new unit, benefiting both patients and care staff.

When many areas of expertise are concentrated within the same walls, the diverse range of knowledge the staff have can be utilised more effectively. We now have internal diseases, surgery, and neurological expertise and consultation assistance within the same unit

Kati Hämäläinen, Nurse

A further objective of the concentrated operations is to improve cost efficiency, the quality of care work, and the wellbeing and satisfaction of staff and patients alike. The construction of all of the facilities and the required equipment cost approximately EUR 12 million.

Basis for a joint development project

The basis of the design was the EVICURES project, which involved developing a design model for an intensive and intermediate care unit of the future. The design model is based on EBD, Evidence Based Design, utilising research information and user experiences provided by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

Architecture firm Arkkitehtitoimisto Jääskeläinen Oy was responsible for the architectural and interior design elements of the project:

When it came to Finland’s first intensive care unit comprising single-patient rooms, the whole design process had to be started from a clean slate

Jyrki Jääskeläinen, Architect

Users as part of the facility design process

The design and construction of the intensive and intermediate care unit were based largely on information on practical usage. The staff have a great deal of knowledge and experience of how the facilities are used, whilst the designers and builders are the experts when it comes to the technical requirements of the facilities. These two perspectives had to be combined as effectively as possible.

User-centricity was the key factor in development work. The hospital staff, management, patients, relatives, the hospital district and cooperation partners were all involved in the design work for the unit

Tiina Yli-Karhu, Design Coordinatorof the Hospital District of South Ostrobothnia

Those involved had the opportunity to familiarise themselves with and test out the functionalities, furniture mobility, lighting and temperatures of the intensive and intermediate care facilities in advance using VR glasses and 3D models in the Virtual Reality Technology Laboratory at Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences.

By exploring the 3D-modeled facilities, we could get a good grasp of what the future facilities would be like, which is particularly difficult with just paper and floorplans

Kati Hämäläinen, Nurse


In the design, we tried to resolve the issues observed in the previous facilities. For example, there has to be room to work and move care equipment around in the patient rooms

Jyrki Jääskeläinen, Architect

To make the job of care staff easier, all of the rooms are equipped identically. This means that the care staff do not need to move equipment and devices from one room to another, as everything they need is always available right where they are.

Interior design facilitates efficient recovery

Research data about factors affecting patient recovery was also used in the design process.

Patient wellbeing is prioritised through means such as stress-minimising technical solutions: personal care rooms feature windows or are lit with dynamic light sources that imitate natural light, varying in accordance with the daily rhythm.

Jyrki Jääskeläinen states that in single-patient rooms, features such as heating, lighting and sound conditions can be adjusted to suit the patients’ preferences and needs. This allows the body to focus on getting better.

With private rooms, patient privacy can be ensured when carrying out procedures, and rest and recovery are more efficient. Furthermore, friends and family can come and visit patients without disturbing other patients in the facility.

Separate rooms also reduce the risk of airborne infections spreading. Diseases cannot spread as easily as in shared rooms

Jyrki Jääskeläinen, Architect

Glass walls were chosen to separate the rooms, to allow care staff to monitor patients’ condition and wellbeing continually, even from outside the room – and if necessary, the window surfaces between rooms can be turned opaque or dimmed at the press of a button to obstruct the view into neighbouring rooms or the corridor.

At the moment, we are still getting used to the new facilities and learning how to use them, but the staff have commended the new, functional and acoustically improved facilities

Kati Hämäläinen, Nurse








If you want to read about the project in Finnish – follow this link.


Healthcare Environments 147 Uncategorized 63

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