Elke Miedema

My name is Elke Miedema. I am a building engineer, architect, researcher and educator. I love complexity and empowerment as part of design, research and education. This is my personal portfolio website which I am slowly building to represent my passions.

Popular summary of my PhD research

Last year, June 2020, I defended my PhD thesis in Architecture titled ‘Health-Promotive Building Design – Exploring perspectives on building design for health promotion in healthcare settings’. Here you can find the popular science summary. 

It was already known that the design of hospitals is important for healthcare. Plus, the built environment is important for a society that focuses on health promotion. However, this thesis showed that it is not clear what health promotion means in the field of healthcare building design. The results also showed that it is unclear, for people who work with health promotion in healthcare, how the built environment can contribute to health promotion. This makes it difficult to understand as a designer what you should think of in terms of health promotion. This can even lead to buildings that hinder health promotion approaches in the future.

The dissertation collected different ideas about the design of health-promoting hospitals. More precisely, we have studied health promotion and care architecture as presented in the literature and with people involved in a building design project. The studies shows health promotion, in relation to health promotion in healthcare, can mean many different things. For example health promotion can refer to stimulating healthy behaviours, such as physical activity, social interaction or healthy nutrition. The health-promotive design of the building then could mean attractive and visible stairs, diverse spaces to socialise, or education kitchens to lear to cook a healthy meal. Below you can find a short explainer video of some of my work.

I have also studied what the built environment means for health promotion among the network that supports hospitals to become health promotion and in hospital organizations for health promotion. The studies have been done using literature studies, interviews, surveys and document analyses. The studies showed that there is attention for the built environment in health promotive hospitals and healthcare organisations. However, unfortunately, the results also indicate that the field of health-promotive building design is still underdeveloped.

This research is particularly important now as many healthcare buildings need to be renovated or rebuilt, often with public funds. This makes it important to publicly discuss what these healthcare buildings should look like, how they can support healthcare, and how they can contribute to healthier communities. The primary audience are the people who are involved in the design of healthcare buildings. The results can support people who work with health promotion to incorporate the built environment in their ideas. The results hopefully result in improved healthcare buildings that play a role in the development of healthier communities. Future research should focus on the testing these health-promotive perspectives and linking them to different building design approaches.

The research was financed by FORMAS, part of AIDAH project (2013-2019) and in collaboration with the Centre for Healthcare Architecture.


PhD defence
Popular science animation
Doctoral student tips
TEDx talk
Symbiosis in Development
Rotterdam Metabolists

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