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Evidence-Based Design (EBD) and Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE)

Basing Design on Credible Research and Evaluation of Projects 

By Robin Snell, Principal, Parkin Architects Limited and
Saleh Kalantari, EDAC, Researcher, PhD candidate, Healthcare Architecture

There is a growing trend among healthcare architectural firms to base their design work on the best available evidence from credible research and evaluation of projects. According to Kirk Hamilton (2003), in the healthcare design field, this process will benefit:

  • Patients and families with higher quality experience;
  • Administrators by improving efficiency and reducing costs;
  • Hospital boards through justification of costly decisions;
  • Physicians by providing medical evidence; and
  • Consumer groups, public, and health authorities by delivering lower-cost and effective healthcare.

A Parkin Knowledge Centre

Parkin Architects Limited is an Evidence-Based Design Accredited and Certification (EDAC) Advocate Firm with the Centre for Health Design, and several of our healthcare designers are EDAC certified.

The idea of a Parkin ‘knowledge centre’ emerged from the research interests among both designers and clients in different areas including Evidence-Based Design (EBD), post-occupancy evaluation (POE), Lean thinking concepts, and environmental sustainability (LEED).

Evidence-Based Design

In EBD, Parkin research teams conducted an extensive search for empirical studies linking the design of the physical environments of hospitals with healthcare service delivery outcomes. The literature review followed a two-step procedure, including a general search for existing studies and a summary of each identified study for the specific topics.

Since 2012, the EBD research group has completed numerous research summaries such as “Same-Handed Room Versus Mirror-Imaged Room”, “Carpet in Healthcare Design”, “Colour in Mental Health”, “Impact of PVC on Patient”, “Acoustic in Operation Room”, etc. In addition, the research group has developed specific topic researches based on client requests.

In an extensive literature review, we implemented 10 detailed research summaries in design for mental health patients for Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) including “Best Practices in Integrating Clinical Research and Education Within an Inpatient Mental Health Unit”, “Best Practices in Size of Inpatient Unit Client Population” and “Best Practice in the Configuration of MH IPU’s”. 

Integrated research informed design process for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Best Practices in the Design of an Inpatient Mental Health Unit”, Toronto, Ontario.

Post Occupancy Evaluation

To complement an ongoing Evidence-Based Design process, the Parkin research team developed a standardized Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) process for the firm. The goal of conducting POEs was to:

  • Provide information, which will inform the design of future projects;
  • Access the implementation of client-focused, outcome-based design innovations; and
  • Verify the contribution of the design to the quality of the built environment.


The system is based on an online database through which we analyze numerous projects on the baseline level, several projects on the indicative level, as well as a small selection of projects on the investigative and diagnostic levels. The results from the systematic evaluation tool will be presented in upcoming healthcare design conferences and future blogs.


Hamilton, D. K. (2003).The four levels of evidence-based practice. Healthcare Design3(4), 18-26.

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