For several years indoor comfort is measured in halls of hospitals by architecture students from the Delft University of Technology. Questionnaires and interviews have shows that patients and visitors have very few complaints about the indoor comfort in hospital halls.
This, in hindsight, is not so very surprising. Patients and visitors usually come out of the cold into the hallway. A hallway which is at least marginally warmer, a hallway where it does not rain and hallway that is sheltered from the outside wind. Secondly, the indoor comfort is not the main concern of the patients and visitors entering the hospital. The patient’s and visitor’s upcoming consults with the doctors or nurses is much more important. Coming from the consult, patients and visitors always have the choice to immediately leave the hospital if they do not like the indoor comfort. Complaints from staff, however, are very common. Staff personnel usually complain about low temperatures and draught.
A reception desk is the main workplace in a hospital hall. A reception desk can be closed, i.e. physically separates the personnel from the environment of the hall. A reception desk can also be open, thus without a physical separation between personnel and patients and visitors. In a hospital, in general, an open reception desk is favoured for a more welcoming atmosphere for patients and visitors. This more open reception desk, however, often causes the personnel to experience low temperatures and draught.
From this study it is clear that it is very difficult design a thermally comfortable reception desk in a hospital. The quest for a reception that expresses openness and transparency clearly hinders the design for a comfortable reception desk. On the other hand, the small number of people at the reception desk is in no comparison to the hundreds of staff and patients for which the hospital is also designed.
Many solutions to improve thermal comfort at a reception desk are already known. The exact cause of the experienced draught and the best solutions, however, are difficult to determine. Scale models or CFD simulations should be used as a guide for design a reception desk in a hospital or when solving thermal comfort problems.
A new cause of draught, people moving past the reception desk, was identified and quantified. As a result, a completely open reception desk inside a large atrium with a lot of people moving past might not be possible without either closing off the reception desk, or increasing the temperature at the reception desk.