After studies showed the positive effects of daylighting in healing environments, designers began introducing large windows with views to the outdoors in patient rooms and waiting areas. As the practice grew, family respite areas and staff spaces eventually saw the light, too.

Now facilities are taking the move further, incorporating daylighting into some nontraditional areas, including the surgical environment.

Importance of daylight in healthcare facilities

“Daylight and connections to the outside are further and further acknowledged as an imperative for healthcare environments to maintain and improve health and well-being,” says Eva Henrich-Behringer, healthcare planner, Heinle, Wischer & Partner (Berlin). “It makes a lot of sense to extend daylighting into all areas where staff and patients spend many hours of their day.”

Henrich-Behringer will speak on the topic with colleague Edzard Schultz, partner at Heinle, Wischer & Partner, in the session “Daylighting in Practice—Within Surgical Environments” at the Healthcare Design Conference (Nov. 15-18 at the San Diego Convention Center, San Diego).

Although the practice is growing in the U.S., the speakers say that bringing daylight into surgical areas is more common in Europe, where hospitals have narrower footprints and easier access to sunlight.

U.S. facilities, on the other hand, tend to feature a wider building block, making it harder to work outdoor illumination into interior areas.

Lighting design strategies

There are also some procedures that require specific lighting. In these cases, Henrich-Behringer and Schultz say there are strategies that can be used to block out natural light or address unwanted glare and heat gain.

For example, an operating room at University Hospital Düsseldorf, Centre for Surgical Medicine II in Düsseldorf, Germany, combines exterior and interior shading devices to control and redirect daylight.

Additionally, horizontal louvers are integrated into a double-skin façade to block sunlight. Triple-pane, low-emission glazing can be utilized to filter out UV light and reduce heat gain.

The speakers will further make the case for daylighting in surgical areas, as well as present design strategies and case studies, during their session.

For more information of the Healthcare Design Conference, Nov. 15-18 at  the San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, visit