Health Design

Course content

Health Design is a problem- and knowledge based studio course. The course explores theories of health design in the context of landscape architecture.

From an environmental psychology perspective the course will give an increased insight into the importance of outdoor environments for human quality of life e.g. comfort, health and well-being. Based on international literature, research papers and relevant cases the course will give a perspective on:

  • The concept of Health Design; origin, definition, and current status.
  • Explanatory models on the interaction between outdoor environments and human health.
  • The developmnet and application of the process model for evidense based health design within landscape architecture.
  • Presentation and application of health promoting design tools.
  • Use, needs and preferences for different user groups (e.g. different age groups, patients etc.)
  • History, background, development and current status of health promoting city planning and of outdoor environments in institutional settings
  • Health promoting characteristics of outdoor environments and health promoting outdoor activities in both public and institutional settings.
  • Theories on healing mechanisms concerning healing gardens and horticultural therapy.
  • The concept of Universal Design (design for all), origin, definition, and current status.

All over the world there is an increasing interest in research results and practice experiences showing the impact of the physical environment on people’s health and well-being. The realization that good design, both indoors and outdoors, not only generates functional efficiency but also strengthens and improves health processes has given rise to a new branch of architecture, called Health Design. This should not be viewed as new discoveries but as rediscoveries or confirmation of a notion that has been considered quite self-evident for thousands of years.

Today, a majority of the world’s population lives in urban areas. As a result people in the industrialized world are living their everyday lives more and more distant to nature, spending much of their time indoors. Lifestyle changes related to this shift may be connected to the fast raise in obesity, heart diseases, diabetes II, osteoporosis, depression, stress and mental fatigue that we now also experience in the Scandinavian countries. An increasing number of decision-makers around the world find an advantage in focusing on factors that determine and influence health instead of on the diseases themselves. Such a health policy means a shift in perspective towards an approach that concentrates more on factors that stimulate people’s own health capacities. In this course we view nature as a health factor; both for improvement of ill health (therapeutic gardens) and preservation and protection of good health (wild nature and urban green spaces).


MSc Programme in Landscape Architecture

Learning outcome

After completing the course the student should have gained the following knowledge, skills and competences:


  • Seek, present and describe relevant theories (environmental psychology, landscape architecture and architecture) as relevant to the planning, development and understanding of health promoting outdoor environments.
  • Examine and analyse the varying needs, interests and preferences of different user groups with regard to health promoting outdoor environments, on the basis of gender, age, cultural context, social situation, diagnosis and functional disability.
  • Examine and analyse the advantages and disadvantages of the interaction between institutional or public outdoor environments and specific health improving activities.
  • Describe in detail how an institutional or public health promoting outdoor environment may be designed for different user groups, e.g. small children, elderly people etc.
  • Present in detail practical and theoretical knowledge in the field of Health Design to professionals and lay people.


  • Improved understanding of the health promoting interaction between human beings, the environment and health promoting activities.
  • Seek, read and analyse relevant peer-reviewed scientific papers.
  • Use methods for analysing health qualities of institutional and public outdoor environments.
  • Write a program with evidence-based arguments for the design of a health improving institutional or public outdoor environment.
  • Design a health improving institutional or public outdoor environment for a specific patient/user group.
  • Present research, theories, analyses and design visions orally.


  • Work independently and self-directed in a project work.
  • Cooperate efficiently and communicatively in group work.
  • Apply the course theories, design tools and the process model to related subjects in other courses and projects.

A number of different methods will be used in the teaching; lectures, field trips, exercises, literature seminars, student presentations, and an individual project work.
- Lectures will be held as basis for theoretical as well as practical input.
- Field trips will take the students to specific outdoor environments relevant for the course theme.
- Exercises; the students will work individually or in small collaborative groups in order to develop their further understanding.
- The literature seminar will give the students the opportunity to find and read relevant research literature that will form the basis for their project work.
- Student presentations; some exercise results will be presented in the studio. Furthermore, the students will present the outcome of the literature seminar as well as their first project ideas and sketches at a sketch presentation.
- The individual project work runs through the whole course. The project work will end up in one product, consisting of several closely interrelated parts; an introduction to the case (background information, user group, site), relevant theories and design tools, an evidence-based design program, and a design proposal including relevant illustrations and descriptions.
The students will develop or redesign an institutional or public environment for a specific user group. The cases are selected by the course team but prior to the course the students will have the opportunity to prioritize which case they would prefer working with.

See Absalon for a list of course litterature.

Examples of main literature:

Cooper Marcus, C & Barnes, M. Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Space. New York, John Wiley.

Kaplan, R., Kaplan, S., & Ryan, R. L. (1998). With people in mind : design and management of everyday nature. Island Press.

Further literature, primarily peer-reviewed papers, will be distributed and referred to.

As this is a design course knowledge and skills corresponding to at least one year participation in the landscape architecture program is strongly recommended.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Oral examination, 25 min
Type of assessment details
The written assignment is the project work. At the oral exam, the students must prepare a 12-15 minutes presentation using e.g. powerpoint or posters. After the students presentation, the examiners ask questions related to the project work and the oral presentation.The written assignment must be handed in prior to the exam week. A combined grade is given after the oral exam.

The assignment must be submitted in physical form and in Digital Exam (3d-models, sketchbooks and logbooks are exempted). The format of the physical submission must follow the instructions of the teacher.

The assignment will not be graded if not submitted on time in Digital Exam.
Exam registration requirements

- Participate in the sketch presentation
- Participate in the literature seminar


Written aids allowed

Written aids allowed.
At the oral exam the students are allowed to look into their project rapports, notes and other relevant literature.  

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship

Students who have not met the initial Exam Registration Requirements must submit a written literature overview concluding in design guidelines and a sketch presentation prior to the re-examination.

Students must contact the course responsible prior to the re-examination and submit their projects a week before the re-examinations. The procedure and evaluation criteria are equal to the ordinary exam. The written assignment may be the same one as used at the ordinary examination.  

The assignment must be submitted in physical form and in Digital Exam (3d-models, sketchbooks and logbooks are exempted). The format of the physical submission must follow the instructions of the teacher.

The assignment will not be graded if not submitted on time in Digital Exam.



Criteria for exam assessment

See learning outcome.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 57
  • Preparation
  • 175
  • Practical exercises
  • 65
  • Excursions
  • 50
  • Guidance
  • 65
  • English
  • 412


Course number
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

Block 3
A And C
Course activities will take place on:
Monday afternoons (13-17)
Tuesday mornings (08-12)
Wednesdays, (08-17)
Thursdays, (08-17)
Fridays, Monday mornings and Tuesday afternoons, students are expected to work with different assignments and their course project
The number of seats may be reduced in the late registration period
Study Board of Geosciences and Management
Contracting department
  • Department of Geoscience and Natural Resource Management
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinators
  • Ulrik Sidenius   (7-786f756c6e7673436c6a71316e7831676e)
  • Ulrika K. Stigsdotter   (3-786e76436c6a71316e7831676e)
Saved on the 28-02-2023

Are you BA- or KA-student?

Are you bachelor- or kandidat-student, then find the course in the course catalog for students:

Courseinformation of students