Guest Lecture Series: Karen Flatt

 Nurture and Nature – Approaches to Mental Health Design

Nurture and Nature – Approaches to Mental Health Design

Karen Flatt, Architect & Studio Director, IBI Group

Date: Thursday 3rd December 2020, 19:00 GMT (online)

Convened by Dr Christina Malathouni (

Watch the event recording here

This is the third of a series of five events under the title: "Historical and contemporary perspectives on mental health and the built environment".

As policy makers, politicians, architects and designers we have to stop making places that make us sick – both physically and mentally. Countless studies and news reports highlight the negative impacts of modern living for example people living in cities are at higher risk of stress and mental disorders

Conversely the impact of nature and the positive effects it has on mental health is proven but do we as designers do enough to enhance nature and access to green spaces when we are designing buildings?  New initiatives to enhance wildlife and nature have been making the news, particularly in the light of Covid-19, but everyone needs to ‘do their bit’ to enhance and encourage access to nature.

As an architect designing mental health facilities across the country I see a lot of good and bad examples of how people have tried to improve spaces in very difficult circumstances and on tight budgets.

This talk will show how IBI are designing buildings to improve people’s mental health using well known initiatives such as ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ and ‘Biophilic Design’ alongside IBI’s own evidence based design tools such as ‘Sense Sensitive Design’ and ‘Emotional Mapping’.

I will show how these initiatives can be incorporated when designing projects of different scales from a healthy new town to a recovery college and finally a medium secure mental health unit for Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Biographical note:

Karen is an Architect and Studio Director at IBI Group who specialises in mental health design and has a profound knowledge of both service-users‘ and healthcare professionals’ unique requirements. She has successfully designed and delivered numerous mental health schemes across different age groups and security levels.

Karen believes that building environments play a significant role in the behaviour of their users and good design can deliver real and measurable benefits. Her aim at IBI is to involve users in all aspects of the design process to create uplifting and therapeutic buildings that improve mental and physical wellbeing.

Support presentation: Introduction to contemporary mental health facilities by the Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust by Haziq Khairi, School of Architecture, University of Liverpool

This is the third of a series of five events under the title: "Historical and contemporary perspectives on mental health and the built environment".

The session included discussion and Q&As.

Watch the event recording here

(Image provided by Karen Flatt)