It is undisputed that built environments have an impact on people. While we feel comfortable in some, we are repelled by others. While we remember some for a lifetime, we forget others immediately after leaving them. Feeling comfortable in certain buildings or thinking they are beautiful does not mean that we can use them successfully in the fight against disease and use them effectively as a cure. Or does it?

From 28 to 30 November 2012, the first International Conference on ‘Optimal Healing Environments’ (OHE) at Alvaro Siza’s Building, Lantaren Venster in Rotterdam will try to answer this question. The three-day conference is organized by Kopvol architecture & psychology in cooperation with the Dutch architecture promoter SFA and the American Samueli Institute. Experts from six nations from various disciplines ranging from ophthalmology and echolocation to architecture and architectural history will speak at the conference. Each expert will represent an important perspective: that of the user, the researcher, the designer, the care giver. Following the symposium, a two-day workshop will take place at the Dutch Architecture Institute NAI. In this workshop 3 teams of scientists and architects work together on the development of stress-reduction zones for hospitals, so called ‘Powerpoints’. The international workshop was conceived and led by architect Gemma Koppen and architectural psychologist Dr. Tanja C. Vollmer. In addition to the five invited scientists, who represent, among others, the fields of time perception, aesthetics, patient empowerment and medical care, eight architects and designers will participate in the workshop, who have qualified beforehand through a competition announced by the SFA. The results can be found under the link provided.