Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital case study

The NHS Centre for Integrative Care: Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital

Project description

At The NHS Centre for Integrative Care: Glasgow Homoeopathic Hospital (GHH), the Design Team of Macmon architects and Jane Kelly lead artist set out to create a place of beauty and healing which makes green leafy surroundings an integral part of the healing environment, and in so doing offers a model that can be applied elsewhere in the NHS and other care systems.

What was achieved?

The experience at GHH has shown that a modern hospital does not need to be a cold, threatening environment, but can be designed with the comfort of the patient uppermost in the mind – without any additional cost per square metre over a standard NHS hospital. This desire seems to already bearing fruit with the local NHS Trust adopting GHH as the new standard for future NHS building design in the area.

Early and frequent consultation with both hospital staff and patients confirmed the view that this therapeutic garden should be visible from within the building, and the focal point of the hospital; an inviting outdoor extension to the indoor healing environment. Like the new building, the garden also aspired to be “a place of beauty and healing”, an inspirational space to both walk and sit in, as well as to look out upon from within.

Further discussions with patients, staff and other members of the Design Team revealed an aspiration for an accessible informal landscape of trees shrubs, flowers and pathways. A garden that would not only give patients and staff an awareness of the rich seasonal renewals of light, colour, form and texture, but provide a practical demonstration of the way that contact with nature can help people recover more quickly and regain their balance, serenity and health.

Key design features

  • Every patient has direct access to the garden from their room via a wooden deck;
  • Generously located and proportioned windows ensure that the garden suffuses the inside of the hospital with reflected natural light;
  • The planting offers a wide variety of forms and textures, from trees and shrubs, to exotic wild grasses, rare flowers and aromatic herbs;
  • The colour scheme for planting echoes the artist's use of colours and shades for the interior environmental design and is inspired by the principles of homeopathy: subtle dilutions of white, ochre, lavender and terracotta.

What are the health benefits?

It has been shown time and again through independent research that a person’s awareness of changing light and proximity to the natural world has a remarkable effect on their sense of well-being and recuperative ability. The garden provides a practical demonstration of the way that contact with nature can help people recover more quickly and regain their balance, serenity and health.

Patients have repeatedly described how the hospital garden has a calming, healing effect. Recounting their recuperative experiences, almost all refer directly to the garden, and some attribute the main benefit to it. The wildlife of birds, foxes, cats and squirrels it attracts has a life-affirming effect for many.

Especially important has been the effect on terminal patients and their families. The architectural full wall of glass, with sliding door access to nature has a powerfully comforting and balancing effect.

Some patient’s perspectives

“The garden gives you the chance to relax. I get lost in that garden, sucked into the trees and the birds in the sky. Before I would see these things but I didn’t connect to them – it is another world – I have learned to appreciate it, and it does something to you, it’s amazing.”

“You get encouragement to be yourself here. I can’t think of the words, it’s not like being out of your body but there is a sensation of looking down on yourself and beginning to see what others are seeing.”

Lessons learnt

  • The importance of leadership and a strong coherent vision for the project;
  • The importance of putting together a collaborative design team who can creatively interpret and develop the project brief;
  • The importance of connecting the inside with the outside, visually and physically;
  • The importance of designing an outdoor space which can be used in all the seasons and in all types of weather.


Picture credits: Jane Kelly