An Anthropological Inquiry by Design Towards Improving Air Quality in Hospitals.

  • Gunn, Wendy (PI (principal investigator))
  • Heylighen, Ann (Supervisor)
  • Saelens, Dirk (Supervisor)



2017-2018 Principal Investigator. An Anthropological Inquiry by Design Towards Improving Air Quality in Hospitals. Dept. of Architecture & Dept. of Civil Engineering, Building Physics Section, KU Leuven University, Belgium. I was awarded a Senior Research Fellowship from KU Leuven Research Council to collaborate with Prof Ann Heylighen (architecture) and Prof Dirk Saelens (building physics) on the research project: An Anthropological Inquiry by Design Towards Improving Indoor Air Quality within Hospital settings. The research aimed to involve anthropological research involving sensorial experience and perceptual acuity of patients, hospital staff and visitors within architectural and engineering design processes and practices towards improving air quality within hospital settings. Sensory experience relates to perceptions of hospital environments, and perceptual acuity relates to how different senses are interrelated in perception through movement by patients, hospital staff and visitors within these environments. During my fellowship, I co-designed a pilot study for Combining Quantitative (sensor measurement campaign) and Qualitative Methodologies and Methods in Data Collection of Air Quality (Measured and Perceived) within Hospital Healthcare Settings. I also developed ethical committee applications for both UZ Leuven University hospital and KU Leven University.


Data collection on indoor air quality in hospitals is both challenging and involves complex interrelationships of patients, staff and visitors when compared to other building types such as offices or schools. I proposed use of qualitative methods alongside non-fixed and fixed sensor measurement campaigns in understanding affects and effects of indoor air quality on hospital occupants. At present, indoor air quality literature is overwhelmed by studies that rely heavily on quantitative tools such as surveys and questionnaires. My main research contribution at KU Leuven was to present an initial proposition for combining qualitative measures on sensory experience and perceptual acuity in the hospital environment. The lessons learned suggested strategies to be adopted to overcome problems of data collection, analysis and interpolation. An important focus of both the initial pilot study and proposition for a wider interdisciplinary research project is to develop further insights for co-relating and co-analysis of resulting research findings combining quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Central issues underpinning my methodological positioning were: to identify anthropological methodologies and theoretical concepts that would support architectural and engineering design concerned with improving indoor air quality in hospital settings; define, describe and discuss forms of architectural and environmental engineering design practices that would support improvement of indoor air quality in hospital settings; further development of aspects of visual communication to enable the movement of scientific research into architectural and engineering design processes; explore experimental approaches to combining qualitative empirical materials and quantitative data involving interdisciplinary research methodologies concerned with designing technological systems of controlling air qualities within hospital settings.
Effektiv start/slut dato01/03/201728/02/2018


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