Many hospitals have developed over a number of years in a piecemeal fashion. This has resulted in complex environments made up of long and confusing corridor systems with bends, turns, and confusing signs. Such settings challenge and frustrate those who visit them.
The importance of wayfinding to building use, costs and safety and the growth in terms of theories, principles, guidelines, and methodologies over the years does not appear to have made an impact on wayfinding performance in complex hospital environments. Thus, there remains a need to find more effective wayfinding solutions to the problems that continue to occur in complex hospitals. This research aims at developing wayfinding strategies in complex hospital environments.
Huelat (2007), presents her wayfinding principles in graphical form showing building blocks (Facility Amenities, Graphics, Signage, Architecture, Interior Architecture, Interior Design, Landscape and Master Plan) which, she asserts rely on each other to form a solid
wayfinding system. This study outlines the findings from two Level 5 Hospitals in Kiambu and Nairobi counties. These hospitals have been chosen purposively with emphasis on size of the facilities. The hospitals are the Thika Level 5 hospital and Mama Lucy Kibaki Level 5 hospital. The parameters investigated to support wayfinding process in hospitals are zoning, route complexity, landmarks, color and lighting , graphics and signage and edges.
The research was carried out through the case study method. Findings revealed that the hospitals lack a distinct and coherent image and therefore it is almost impossible to navigate. This is as a result of a highly complex circulation network, weak typological definition of structures and lack sufficient locational aids that would support the wayfinding process. Getting lost in these facilities was a comon occurence which causes an already stressful environment to become even more stressful for the visitors and patients. Recommendations have been drawn in the last chapter of these study which include: landmarks need to be unique in terms of size, texture, shape and color so as to be effective and they should be placed at decision points and perceived from as many directions as possible thus the ones located at intersections work best. These provide direction in terms of designing hospitals with effective watyfinding for the future.