#IAAZB: Color And Healing

“One of the most indescribable moments I have had, being an Architect is being in a space that hits all the right notes and gets me excited. Now imagine the polar opposite of this moment. It was roused by a recent visit to a certain clinic in a peri-urban area somewhere on the Copperbelt. I was shown around a room no larger than 27 square meters which served as a maternity ward, Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) clinic and clinic for mothers and children. It had no running water and the space was grossly inadequate. It broke my heart. My thoughts somehow led me to the children that were born in this little clinic and grew up in the nearby community. This tiny clinic did not have a designed paediatrics wing and the closest general hospital (12 km away) with one of those is not accessible.”, Chola Tembo wrote.

A paediatric wing is meant to cater to the medical needs of children and has many design considerations due to the nature of children – they are smaller, un-matured people whose needs are specific to them. Our immediate surroundings have a bearing on our wellness regardless of our age and some of the important considerations in the paediatric wing ‘environment’ are proportion, use of color and indoor air quality.
So as not to bore you the reader, color as an important consideration in the paediatric wing was picked out for that reason, while my beautiful and eloquent friend, Chola Tembo, wrote on Indoor Air Quality, for the #IAAZB Collab challenge, here:


Scholars have forever explored things that intrigued them, and, color is one such phenomenon.
Research has shown that if people are affected by color in their normal lives, then they are even more prone to the effects of color on their behavior when they are not feeling their best, Kenneth Edwards (1979).
Throughout history, color has long been held with the assumption to have an effect on health.
The Assyrians, Babylonians, and Egyptians, for example, all used color and light therapies of sorts in healing (Demarco and Clarke, 2001). And the Egyptians are esteemed to be the pioneer civilization to research on the correlation between Color and Healing, as noted in their great temples of Karnack and Thebes, by the creation of Color Halls in which they explored the impact of color on an individual’s ability to heal (Anderson, 1975).
The Persians, furthermore, are believed to have practiced a semblance of color therapy based on the by-products of rays of light, while Pythagoras, a Greek philosopher who around 500 BC, went on much more further to use music, poetry, and color as a cure for disease (Birren, 1961).
Evidently, the above history lesson schools us that environmental factors, like color, have an effect on patients. Laboratory research studies have gone on to show that color can have a direct effect on a person physically, as well as, mentally. Therefore, by simply pigmenting a wall in a hospital room with a select color, for example, effect on patient well-being

Below are just some of the effects of color, based on studies of the psychological attributes, on patient well-being:




While Red stimulates and invigorates the physical body, it also increases circulation, muscular activity, blood pressure, respiration, nervous tension, heart rate, and hormonal and sexual activity. It stimulates the nervous system, liver, adrenals, and senses in general. In design, it is this nonstop of activity associated to this color that it is perfect for the Surgical Theater, and more so to camouflage the inevitable blood splatter in such a space.




Orange is an appetite stimulate, and is seen as a universal healer that can counteract depression and humorlessness (Vernolia, 1988). In design, this color is perfect for the Patient’s Dining room.



Yellow raises blood pressure, pulse and respiration. It can relieve depression, tension, and fear, and soothe mental and nervous exhaustion (Vernolia, 1988). In design, this color is perfect for the Patient’s recreation room.




Green affects the whole nervous system and is especially beneficial to the central nervous system. It has a sedative effect, relieving irritation and exhaustion. It soothes emotional disorders and nervous headaches (Vernolia, 1988). “Green harmonizes us. If we wish to refresh ourselves we go to the countryside, where the green of nature restores us after the city has taken its toll of our nerves” (Anderson, 1975:8). In design, this color is perfect for the Patient’s recreation room too just as the color yellow is.



Purple induces relaxation and sleep, lowers body temperature, and decreases sensitivity to pain. It also increases the activity of the veins (Vernolia, 1988). In design, this color is perfect for the Patient’s observation room.

Because of Color’s prowess as a regimen, what better way to utilize it than in design and to heal.


2 thoughts on “#IAAZB: Color And Healing

  1. #Red “…In design, it is this nonstop of activity associated to this color that it is perfect for the Surgical Theater, and more so to camouflage the inevitable blood splatter in such a space.”

    In as much as it stimulates all that activity in one’s mind and nervous system, the colour red is a bright and vibrant colour associated with passion, the surgical theatre however, is one that needs to be calm and tranquil so as to allow surgeons perform operations in a calm and level headed manner. Any over stimulation from their environment could lead to loss of precision and mistakes caused by their agitation. And in an effort to keep surgical theatres clean and sterile, most surgical theatres tend to take on lighter hues such as whites and pale blues so as to ensure that the room is thoroughly clean from top to bottom, and that no germs or bacteria remain “camouflaged” within the wall/floor colour…

    Overall I really enjoyed this article and I can attest the healing powers of colour as this concept has been adopted at MKP TMS Hospital, a local hospital in Lusaka’s Kabulonga/Ibexhill area where my family is registered. Its brightly coloured walls in each different area, with beautiful pictures flanking each wall almost make you forget you were unwell


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