Ninewells Hospital Empathic Redesign

Ninewells Hospital and Medical School is administered by NHS Tayside, which is responsible for delivering healthcare to around more than 400,000 people living in Tayside. Ninewells Hospital itself is one of the largest teaching hospitals in Europe and it is internationally renowned. The medical school was ranked 1st in the UK in 2009.

Location Plan

However, the building itself has become dated and does not utilise its setting. There are plans to improve the building andthis project was a way of collecting ideas on how to imprve the user experience. It is immediately apparent that the building has a number of factors that could be improved in order for it to be more user friendly. It is evident that it is a very difficult space for patients to navigate as the signage is not helpful and it is very dark and stuffy in many places.

Teaming up with students in product design, graphic design, interior design and medicine students who study at the hospital, we were able to have some very interesting conversations about how to proceed. We were given the two week task of creating a design to aid in bettering the user experience in the main concourse which could then be repeated throughout the hospital in a way that is specifically catered towards users who are partially sighted or blind.

There are a number of aids that can help navigation when a patient has this disability. We focused on the idea of creating a multi-sensory experience;

Contrastive colour – Visually impaired people are only able to see two colours in close proximity when they are very different from each other. Lighting should also be kept at a constant level throughout the building as it is difficult to see if it varies too much. This can be fixed through glass which varies its opacity when it senses strong light,


Tactile elements – the use of a 3D map or areas with different floor surfaces can aid with navigation,


Spoken information – The information desk in the hospital is very useful but not very clear. Through technology we thought this could be improved. Phones could be linked up with ‘checkpoints’ around the hospital or could be programmed in with directions – like google maps.


Smell – Smell is a very important factor in an environment as our sense of smell is very closely linked to our memory. To enable users to feel more at ease, we thought the hospital should smell of fresh, pleasant aromas rather than disinfectant.


We met with people who live with visual impairment and asked them about what they thought could make the space more accessible for them.


One of the main problems they pointed out is that visually impaired people have a narrower field of view than an average person. We were instructed to make sure that any changes could be seen at eye level.


This walk through is to show the implied features that from our research we suggest could be used as inspiration for an updated concourse.

Amy Collier
Gillespie Crerar
Rachel Goodwin
Rob King
Alice Louisa
Lars Robertson

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