Vol. 20 No. 3 (2023): Memory

Accessibility in intensive care units: A qualitative study on exploring architects’ perspective.

Negar Sioofy Khoojine
Middle East Technical University

Published 2023-11-28


  • Intensive Care Unit,
  • Expert Interviews,
  • Thematic Analysis

How to Cite

Sioofy Khoojine, N., Kasalı, A., & Erkılıç-Bayar, M. (2023). Accessibility in intensive care units: A qualitative study on exploring architects’ perspective. A|Z ITU JOURNAL OF THE FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE, 20(3), 547–564. https://doi.org/10.58278/0.2023.24


This study addresses healthcare designers’ perspectives concerning the architectural features within the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) environments that can impact visual and physical access to patients. In line with patient-centered approaches, providing accessible environments in ICUs is becoming increasingly critical for healthcare providers. The existing literature suggests various architectural features to influence levels of access to patients. How architects prioritize these features and translate them into the configuration of ICU environments has not been explored extensively. A series of semi-structured interviews were conducted to understand the perspectives of healthcare architects in the context of Turkey. The interviews were conducted with twelve participants with recent experiences in ICU design. The research followed a thematic analysis to link the qualitative data with the participants’ drawings that emerged during interviews. Five essential themes emerged, including: “Unit Model,” “Unit Layout,” “Unit Size,” Bed Position,” and “Transparent Material.” The participants implied configurational models, including “open ward” and “single-patient room,” to facilitate high levels of accessibility. Beyond the key decisions concerning layouts, the participants also emphasized the strategic use of transparent materials, which was considered critical in establishing visual access within units. The findings suggest that healthcare architects mostly favor open wards as a suitable model to provide high levels of physical access by decreasing nurses’ walking distances during shifts and visual accessibility by enhancing nurses’ capacity to supervise the patients within ICU environments. The findings can advance our understanding of how the issue of access is formulated and implemented in ICU settings.