Ståhlberg-Aalto, Freja (2019). The aesthetics and architecture of care environments: A Q methodological study of ten care environments in Japan and the European countries of Finland, Sweden, the UK, France and Austria. Espoo, Finland: Aalto University. 355 pp. $51.50. ISBN: 9789526087351

Abstract: The aesthetics of care environments carry huge potential to induce wellbeing, enhance the quality of life and, thereby, affect the healing and rehabilitation of patients and residents. This book applies experimental Q methodology – a qualitative method for systematically analysing human subjectivity – in search of a new approach to evaluating care environments.

The focus is on the role of aesthetics as experienced by the actual users and stakeholders of ten high-quality and award-winning care environments in Japan and the European countries of Finland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, France and Austria.

A total of 45 participants, including architects, members of the administration, care staff, patients, residents, and their relatives give their subjective accounts on the aesthetic features of the care environment. The aim is to increase our understanding of architecture in this sector and thus contribute to the design of future care buildings in a way that best fulfils the values and expectations of their users.

The Aesthetics and Architecture of Care Environments by Finnish architect Freja Ståhlberg-Aalto was prepared as her doctoral dissertation at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Freja Ståhlberg-Aalto has worked at JKMM architects in Helsinki whilst working on her PhD. She was the project architect of their celebrated Amos Rex Museum. She has also been involved in the design of libraries, arts building and other public projects since she started working with JKMM in 2004.


1. The Care Environment: Research Approaches

2. Aesthetics and Architecture: Building a Theoretical Model

3. Investigating The Care Environment

4. The Case Study Buildings

5. The Results of The Q Methodological Experiments

6. Discussion

7. Conclusion: Reconciliation Bet ween Discourses

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