The aim of this project is to study how play can create an Optimal Healing Environment (OHE) for children in hospitals. The final outcome is an interactive play structure that teaches children how to stay healthy.

Installation | Product Design | Research

Srishti Institute of Design - Pre-Thesis 2019

be like bobo
Be like bobo

Hospitalization constitutes an insufferable affair both for grown-ups and for the most part for children, who all of a sudden need to leave the comfort zone of their home and the people who are vital for them, and stop their most loved exercises, including play. Exclusion from one's home and passage to the scary condition of a doctor's facility cause intense tension and stress both to the child and to the family. These negative sentiments are strengthened at whatever point there is an unending or extreme and perilous infection. The fundamental driver of such emotions appear to incorporate dread of therapeutic examinations, torment, passing, dread of partition from the guardians, and dread of determination, vulnerability, loss of control and wellbeing.

A healing environment can be described as an all-inclusive environment that accelerates patient rehabilitation. In contrast to medical treatment, healing is a psychological concept of health. In the United States, the Samueli Institute, a medical research organization exploring the science of healing has developed the “Optimal Healing Environment” (OHE) which it described as “the social, psychological, physical, spiritual, and behavioral components of healthcare support and stimulate the body’s innate capacity to heal itself”

In fields such as architectural and urban planning, children and adolescents are often overlooked, even though they are typically more sensitive to environments compared with adults. Since young children are more dynamic than adults are, additional considerations should be incorporated in healthcare for children. Young children spend a lot of a time playing games, so non-pharmacological intervention measures can be effectively applied among them. Studies have also revealed that younger children display stronger anxiety and pain reactions during diagnosis and treatment processes than do older children, further re-iterating that more attention should be paid to younger children during healthcare processes.

One of the best forms of play is free play, where children don’t have an organized timetable of what they are doing for playtime. Free play involves parental supervision depending o n the age of the child. It is a great way for children to tune their focus on creative thinking, which enables them forget what is troubling them. It also helps them become a confident, empathetic, self-reliant and encourages problem-solving. Free play allows kids to develop emotionally, too. They think about how to respond, since they are putting themselves in situations that they have created. It may help reduce some anxiety disorders in the future as well.

Considering the benefits of free play and healing environment individually, this project will explore the outcome of an interactive space combining the two.

mood board.png

Target age group: 3 – 7 year old children

Children in this age group gain enduring ground in subjective improvement. Not only would they be able to tally, name hues, and reveal to you their name and age, they can also settle on a few choices all alone, for example, picking an outfit to wear. Preschool-age children comprehend essential time ideas and sequencing (e.g., prior and then afterward), and they can foresee what will occur next in a story. They additionally start to appreciate the utilization of humour in stories. Since they can think symbolically, they appreciate role-play and creating elaborate characters and situations. A standout amongst the most widely recognized cases of their intellectual development is their blooming curiosity. Preschool-age youngsters love to ask "Why?”.


Between 3 and 7 years of age, children come to comprehend that individuals have contemplations, sentiments, and convictions that are not quite the same as their own. This is known as hypothesis of-mind (TOM). Children can utilize this ability to prompt others, induce their folks to buy a piece of candy, or comprehend why people may be annoyed.


They moreover rely upon their parents who nurture them. Parents are usually settling on choices for their child but in play, children have a greater chance to decide. This is essential for their developing sense of self as it builds sentiments of self-adequacy, capability and certainty. Play empowers children to express emotions and practice roles. Through play children figure out how to arrange the give and take of associations with others. Supporting children's play enables them to feel acknowledged and express their emotions. Acknowledgment constructs a positive feeling of self.


The idea was to design an interactive installation in a hospital that teaches children some good habits that will help them build their immunity. This concept was chosen because children are receptive to good habits when they are sick. The important good habits are -


1. Wash hands regularly 

2. Play outside everyday / Be active everyday 

3. Eat a healthy balanced diet 

4. Sleep for 10 -13 hours everynight

The concept was going to be represented in the form of a story with a character because children relate to a story when there is a character involved. The character was a strong and healthy dinosaur named Bobo who was going to inform children about how he stays healthy. 


Representation format (story) - 

1. Hi! This is Bobosaurus. You can call him Bobo

2. He is very strong and healthy. 

3. Want to know his secrets?

4. Put the ball through the correct hole to know his first secret


The images above are mockups of the installation - one installation showing that you have to wash your hands regularly and one showing that you have to sleep for 10 - 13 hours every night. Two of the four good habits were chosen because of the time constraint of this project. The installation was a chain reaction, wherein you roll a ball from the starting point and the ball goes through a path with some obstacles. A chain reaction was chosen because it was a repetitive action meaning, every time the chain reaction gets over, the child has to restart it. Through this method good habits are reinforced in a child's mind. The images below show the movement of the ball through the installation. There are also multiple entry points to make the play more interesting. 

IMG_7015-2 new.jpg
IMG_7015-2 copy new.jpg

The close up images show the spaces in which the ball can be put. Tags with required action are also provided so that the children will know what to do. The space within which the installation will be placed was designed in such a way that it creates a whole experience


Below is the visualisation of the installation within a space

© 2020 Anu Manohar