Dan Shen


An Illusion of Space

Hospitals make us sick. The effect of a poor environment directly affects wellbeing and recovery times. In The Built Environment and Mental Health,Gary W. Evans said:”The built environment has direct and indirect effects on mental health…” . The emotion will be affect by these environments, thus it will influence the efficiency of things what they do. Especially to the patients who need to live in hospital for a period of time and can’t move, because from Isolation and Mental Health, (NHS National Electronic Library for Health) it said:”people’s natural instincts is when the brain is not receiving much input from the environment, there is little information based in reality that the unconscious can focus on or try to interpret.” And if they have sometimes stay at enclose space and with minimal human contact, they will fell anxiety, depression, and a feeling of being disconnected from the world around them. So what can we do for helping the patients who can’t move and need to stay for a long time in an enclosed space ?

The existing space can’t be changed, therefore, I want to explore new expression forms and creation methods through in-depth analysis and research on the vision illusion of 3D and 2D in graphic design and strive to broaden thinking space and made patients much happier to stay in the place. And also it will be flexible, low cost, changed quickly, low carbon to let the hospital to use.

And I will use the Campus resources, specifically, through attending lectures, seminars, talk with nurses and patients, and referring to relevant publications in the library and some works of good designers in the illusion field, such as Trompe L’oeil which creates an illusion of space and paints an apparently three dimensional image on the wall.

Designed by Trompe L’oeil

This allow people have a visual hallucination between 3D and 2D, and opening the rooms to a grander scale. I like to make researches on this kind of design works and do conclusion about the expression ways between 3D and 2D to use it into the enclosed space.




1.Bradley E. Karlin; Robert A. Zeiss (2006) Best Practices: Environmental and Therapeutic Issues in Psychiatric Hospital Design: Toward Best Practices [Online] Available at: http://ps.psychiatryonline.org/data/Journals/PSS/3777/06ps1376.pdf

2. Juhani Pallasmaa (2005) The Eyes of The Skin: Architecture and Senses [Online] Available at: http://benv1082.unsw.wikispaces.net/file/view/Eyes+of+the+Skin+Part+1.pdf

3. Roger S. Ulrich (1991) Effects of interior design on wellness: theory and recent scientific research [Online] Available at: http://www.majorhospitalfoundation.org/pdfs/Effects%20of%20Interior%20Design%20on%20Wellness.pdf

4. Hilary Dalke, paul J Littlefair, David L Loe (2006) Lighting and colour for hospital design [Online] Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0030399205001283

5. Roger Ulrich*, Xiaobo Quan, Craig Zimring*, Anjali Joseph (2004) The Role of the Physical Environment in the Hospital of the 21st Century: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity [Online] Available at: http://mercyidaho.org/pdf/CAH_role_physical_env.pdf

6. Taylor, Shelley E. ; Brown, Jonathon D. (1988) Illusion and well-being: A social psychological perspective on mental health. [Online] Available at: http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/bul/103/2/193.pdf

7. Gombrich, E. H. (2002) Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation London: Phaidon Press, 2002.

8. Marshall M. Monroe (1993) Apparatus and method for creating a real image illusion [Online] Available at: http://www.google.com/patents?hl=zh-CN&lr=&vid=USPAT5257130&id=vl8iAAAAEBAJ&oi=fnd&dq=illusion+image&printsec=abstract#v=onepage&q=illusion%20image&f=false

9. Jin-Zhu Zhao, De-Lin Wang, Ru-Wen Peng*, and Mu Wang (2011) Watching outside while under a carpet cloak of invisibility [Online] Available at: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1009.2849.pdf

10. Joy Monice Malnar, Frank Vodvarka (1992) The interior dimension : a theoretical approach to enclosed space New York : John Wiley


My name is Dan Shen, I come from China and currently study Master of Design at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in University of Dundee. I like to come into contact with different people and different new things.

I used to study Art & Design in Tongji University in Shanghai. During this period, I realized different design fields, such as environmental design, media design, graphic design… Among these, graphic design was the main course what I learned.

Recently, I am doing the project about how to make the people who can’t move and live in the enclose space in hospital feel wellbeing in illusional way. I am looking forward if you have some suggestions or ideas to share with me. Also if you have any questions fell free to contact with me, I will very glad to discuss with you.

E-mail: d.shen929

Website: zhecanagzi.wordpress.com


6 Responses to Dan Shen

  1. jhzkim says:

    Hi Dan
    I agree with you, Environment is important for people especially who are staying in hospital or enclosed space. But I think this research is quite difficult because feelings are individual and difficult to express. Furthermore you will need at least two different environmental designs at a same space to observe how people’s feeling change defends on the change of space design. I believe you have a good idea and you will find out a good way to improve the environment using design.

  2. Angela Tulloch says:

    Hi Dan,
    I am really interested in the effect of the environment on people so this project fascinates me! You may find this book a useful read:
    The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses by Juhani Pallasmaa.
    Its about how we experience our environment with all of our senses, not just visual.
    Will you need to get a disclosure to work on this project as you intend on talking to patients?
    Research into this may be quite difficult but i really like the basic idea of finding ways to expand confined spaces.

  3. Ming Ge says:

    Hi, Dan.
    I really like this topic, the reason is that i am quite afride of going to hospital(doctors& nurses’ white cloth and even the smell of disinfectant) since i was very young. i think it would be a good way by using Illusion of Space to cope with the problem. However, the patients in hospital have vary different situation, i recommend you maybe focus on a specific kind of patients, it might be more easy to get an accurate results. Here i found a interesting vedio about 3d animation apply in space, it might be helpful.

  4. dilucywang says:

    Hi, Dan
    Very interesting research area and I already cannot help learning about the design results.
    I don’t know much about this area , but since you will deal with the envirnoment in hospital, maybe narrow the whole environment down to a certain space, like ward, examination room or somewhere else which might help you work more efficiently.

    Anyway, well done and hope you will enjoy the whole process

  5. jimlsls says:

    This is so interesting that i love it so much! If you need any help, please let me know and i will give you a hand.

    I love your idea, i think it can be used in our real life such as: hospitals, jails, schools and etc. But i think it just costs too much to draw on the walls for every single hospital, and every patient is different, some patients may love the drawings and some might just hated. A projector might help?

  6. Hi Dan,

    Really great topic, it’s a project which I think will get you a lot or attention and praise.

    I like how you identify the problem right away. Gets the reader into the topic staright away. However I think it would be good to try and get a quote or stat which imediatly backs up that statement. This would make it a real problem rather than a suggestion.

    Th fact you have offered example of designers in the area is clever and interesting, meaning people (and myself) can see examples of the theme you hope to achieve even before you’ve started.

    The only thing that i think would help is to try and identify some key resources, esspecally people. It shows readers who you are speaking to and who is involved in the project. However i undersand if this is something you need to clarify still.

    Im really looking forward to you prototyping and think ill be tryign to get some inspiration from it. Good work.

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