Journal of Sonic Studies, volume 6, nr. 1 (January 2014)Marie Højlund; Sofie Kinch: ALARMING ATMOSPHERES - EMBODIED SOUND HABITUATION AS DESIGN STRATEGY IN A NEURO-INTENSIVE CARE UNIT
Nurses working in the Neuro-Intensive Care Unit at Aarhus University Hospital lack the tools to prepare children for the alarming atmosphere they will enter when visiting a hospitalised relative. The complex soundscape dominated by alarms and sounds from equipment is mentioned as the main stressor. As a response to this situation, our design artefact, the interactive furniture Kidkit, invites children to become accustomed to the alarming sounds sampled from the ward while they are waiting in the waiting room. Our design acknowledges how atmospheres emerge as temporal negotiations between the rhythms of the body and the environment in conjunction with our internalised perception of the habituated background. By actively controlling the sounds built into Kidkit, the child can habituate them through a process of synchronising them with her own bodily rhythms. Hereby the child can establish, in advance, a familiar relationship with the alarming sounds in the ward, enabling her to focus later more on the visit with the relative. The article discusses the proposed design strategy behind this solution and the potentiality for its use in hospital environments in general.