If Walls Could Talk

In Germany, the structural shortage of space in acute care hospitals has been a problem for years. All disciplines therefore have to be very flexible when it comes to using special consultation or therapy rooms. The non-medical disciplines are particularly affected. On behalf of the Else Kröner-Fresenius Foundation, Kopvol investigates the situation in several German hospitals, including the Munich University Clinic of the LMU. Here, a whole range of rooms such as conference rooms, waiting areas, examination rooms, lecture halls or individual work places are used for counselling purposes. Consultants and practitioners have to spend twice as much energy and time in these rooms in order to create trust and achieve the desired conversation goals. This is clearly shown by the survey that was designed as a comparative study and which was carried out in phase 2 of the pilot study “If walls could talk. Influence of architecture on the willingness of people with a life-threatening illness to converse”. As a result, Kopvol identifies design criteria that significantly increase the willingness to talk and provide greater relief for both practitioners and patients. One of the criteria is the distance between rooms and entrance and the design quality of the route from the entrance to the consultation room.

At the International Congress for Psycho-Oncology (WCPO) in Venice, the results are presented to a specialist audience for the first time. The results have already been incorporated and evaluated in designs of working environments developed by Kopvol. Most recently in the development of a new consulting treatment room typology for the Children’s and Youth Hospital in Freiburg, published in “Because experts are humans (Weil Experten Menschen sind)” (Koppen, Vollmer, 2014).


Koppen, G., & Vollmer, T. C. (2006). If walls could talk’ – The willingness of talking about death and dying and its association to space awareness in patients with cancer. Psycho-Oncology, 15, S82.

Koppen, G., & Vollmer, T. C. (2015). Weil Experten Menschen sind! – Qualitatives Raumkonzept, Arbeits- und Ausbildungsbereiche: Neubauprojekt ‘Unsere Kinder- und Jugendklinik Freiburg’. 2. veränderte Auflage. Freiburg i. Br.: INITIATIVE.

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