About This Project

While working with hospital nurses, we became aware of the desirability of having someplace those nurses could go during the workday to replenish their physical, emotional, and spiritual energy. Some initial interactions with architects and designers suggested that the conventional approach to creating such a space would often be to design an attractive “lounge” or “break room” where the nurses might sit in a comfortable, relaxing environment. Such a room would be a good thing, we thought, but we believed that more could be done.

Because of our experience with restorative activities and our awareness that caregivers such as nurses require and deserve self-care that goes beyond just putting their feet up for a while, we suggested that a space could be designed to encompass a range of truly restorative activities like the ones described throughout this site.

As we discussed this with nursing professionals, hospital administrators, architects and other design professionals, two things became clear:


First, there are myriad options, many of them very easy to implement, to provide activities of brief duration that have deeply restorative effects;

Second, not all the possible restorative options can be encompassed within a single reasonably-sized space that would often be occupied by several people at the same time. Some activities require quiet contemplation; some are noisier or potentially distracting for other reasons. Choices would have to be made about what activities the space should facilitate.

The more we investigated, the more we realized that there is widespread need for restorative spaces, not only for nursing professionals but throughout the organizational world and also for individuals in their homes.
It was important to us that the potential users of such spaces be provided with as much information as possible, so they could participate fully in creating the best restorative situation for themselves. It was also important that architects and designers have access to the same information, and that all parties to the design of such spaces be able to approach the design process in a collaborative way.

Our original intention was to create a printed book or manual to help people design optimal restorative space. The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation generously provided funding toward the creation of such a book or manual. The more we researched, the more we realized that a website like this one would be far more valuable because it allows those with an interest in designing restorative spaces (but who perhaps do not have a deep understanding of all the alternatives for restorative activities) to easily investigate the activities and learn enough about them to make at least a preliminary decision about their desirability.

Once again, the Driehaus Foundation recognized the importance of this work and provided funding to help transform our written materials into this site.

Many others have provided assistance and encouragement with this evolving project, and we wish to thank them here:

Joan Cantwell

Sunny Fischer

Taylor Lies

Alison Raby

Web designer Kathy Raby has consistently gone above and beyond to make the complex information here as accessible and inviting as possible.

Eva Maddox

Mary Ann McDermott

Mark Neil

Beth Rosenthal

Lisa Sawlit

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This site is funded in part by a generous grant from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation