Kaethe Burt-O’Dea

Kaethe Burt-O’Dea is an independent healthcare design consultant based in Dublin, Ireland. A diverse range of experience contributes to her research approach including careers in the arts, nursing, organic farming, product design, and cross-disciplinary sustainable design development. Her consultancy, desireland, focuses on the socio-cultural relationships that influence human well-being within the built environment and the promotion of integrated healthcare systems.

desireland works collaboratively with clients to develop project specific research methodologies that capture and incorporate user experience in the development of innovative health care strategies. Kaethe brings a fresh ‘outsider’’ approach to healthcare design research pitched to facilitate organizational learning and therapeutic model development as part of the design strategy.

An example of this approach is her ongoing collaboration with Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, UK, and the research she conducted to guide the design of the Dyson Centre for Neonatal Intensive Care, an innovative project intended to be at the forefront of the development of neo-natal intensive care across the UK. Kaethe’s study of  the ‘Individualized Developmental Care’ model and its messages for environmental design fed into the pioneering holistic approach to therapeutic design used  to create this building. The result is a new low-carbon unit that will allow the staff to practice evolving methods of care for premature and sick babies into the future.

“This quiet building demonstrates what thoughtful practice, with a strong client dialogue and engagement, can bring to both brief development and technical opportunities and has set a standard that could be a role model for similar future development. The Jury were impressed by the intelligence and moved by sensitivity of this building.”

Stuart McKnight, RIBA Jury Chair

A recent article in Mosaic, ‘Building Healthier Hospitals,’ features the Dyson Neonatal Unit as a case study.

In recent years desirelandʼs research focus has turned to the ʻstreet,ʼ and the influence of environment and behavior on health in the urban context. In 2007 Kaethe founded the Lifeline Project, a community led project which works in partnership with Dublin Institute of Technology’s Students Learning with Communities Programme. The project uses action research and community based learning to support the strategic development of green infrastructure in north-west central Dublin.

Read more about Kaethe’s consultancy work on her Linkedin Profile