User-centered, Research-based Design of Futuristic Intensive Care Units

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This paper discusses the planning, implementation and results of a design research project developed with Industrial Design post-graduate students, which used ergonomics and user-centred design approaches in health-services environments, specifically Intensive Care Units (ICU) in Hospitals, to design innovative ICU design concepts. Initially, a review of the literature shows current approaches to ICU design, mainly from an architectural perspective. Current and futuristic visions for ICU spaces are illustrated through examples from architecture and science fiction movies. The concept of “very large scale integration” within digital technologies is also discussed, as a basis for possible design directions. Subsequently, field work through user-observations, surveys and unstructured interviews of patients, family, and healthcare workers (mainly nurses and medical doctors) carried on at the Calvary John James Hospital (CJJH) and the Canberra Hospital (CH) are described, and main findings are summarized. Based on the previous research, tangible outcomes of this project also include some short-term solutions as well as futuristic conceptual design proposals.