World Health Design – Enhancing the healing environment

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SOLARDOME Retreat - enhancing the healthcare environment - Oxford and Buckinghamshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust

UK Company, Solardome Industries, has unearthed applications for its unique and innovative range of geodesic glass domes in the health sector.

The design principles of the Solardome® glasshouse are based on the revolutionary work of American inventor, architect and engineer, Richard Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983). Fuller committed his life to finding global strategies for making humankind “a success in the universe.” By replicating ‘nature’s own coordinate system’ which can be found in all spheres and understanding that gravitational forces are spherical, his work challenged the efficiency of the traditional ‘linear’ architectural structures, and the geodesic dome was born.

Creating the perfect balance between science and nature, Solardome® glasshouse provide optimum light transmission, heat retention and superb ventilation, making them ideal for a range of applications in the modern world.

According to Clausen, Fagerhalt lighting academy 2006, “In 2003 Scientists found evidence that we have an entire sensory system that works parallel with our visual system. This system controls our body clock and the release of e.g. melatonin that influences our sleep cycle.” This study also showed that as the level of ambient lighting increased so too does mental health. For the study they classed mental health as awakeness, well being and performance.

Solardome® glasshouses create an inviting, tranquil, ‘back to nature’ environment which, in turn, stimulates a feeling of wellbeing. This makes them appealing for the health sector, particularly from a mental health perspective because they address the need for an innovative approach to rehabilitation and therapeutic activities.

Clients using the rehabilitation services at Mandalay House in Aylesbury now have an exciting new outdoor space to use after Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust was awarded £35,000 by the King’s Fund as part of their ‘Enhancing the Healing Environment’ programme.

The Trust recognized the requirement for a covered structure which would enable clients to use the garden all year round, and also act as a ‘striking’ focal point. It needed to address the lack of therapeutic, social and recreational space outside of the main building.

David Stalker, who led the project for the NHS Trust, said: “The geodesic dome design with its ability to be outdoors yet indoors with access to natural light and transparency was a real selling point for us. Even though it is a pre-fabricated structure if offered the most scope for our overall design; presenting a visible open canvas for us to make our own. Therapeutically there is researched and anecdotal evidence about the positive effects of solar light on melanin levels, SAD and overall wellbeing. It also encourages clients who are potentially vulnerable and isolated to the immediate confines of the existing building to go outside throughout the year. The means they have much needed calming, warm and safe social and recreational space.”

Sarah Waller, programme director for the King’s Fund, said: “The lack of social space was obvious here, especially after talking to service users. I am delighted to see the end result as a definite achievement in creating a relaxing and therapeutic environment.”

Versatile, eco-friendly (Solardome® glasshouses are over 98% recyclable) and requiring virtually no maintenance, many educational establishments use the domes as an inspirational, outdoor learning environment in which children can create their own mini Eden. Solardome® glasshouses can also be found throughout the world as research units, conservatories, glasshouses and spa pool covers and even artist’s studios!


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