There is a growing literature exploring the linkage between health and healthcare environments reflecting a range of concerns about the quality, efficiency and design of hospitals and related health care environments. In the UK the National Health Service (NHS) is advocating the principle of ‘high quality care centred on patients’ and integral to this is the quality of the environment in which that care is delivered. In the north east of England a new large hospital is being created on a single site through the amalgamation of three existing smaller hospitals. The hospital Trust is committed to delivering high quality ‘patient-centred’ care and hopes, despite the large scale of the building, to achieve a sense of intimacy for individual patients, and to encourage a sense of ownership of the hospital amongst the local community. The hospital planning team believe that the solution to these challenges lies in high quality architectural design and the integration of public artworks into the health care environment. The project brief has paid special attention to building design, therapeutic colour schemes, materials, lighting, space, and acoustics. The design features and colour schemes are intended to individualise departments within the hospital to help create a sense of intimacy and identity within the whole. Part of the budget was used to commission artwork for the hospital and a ‘Healing Arts’ Committee has been set up to oversee this work, to seek further funding and to fund artists’ residencies creating works appropriate to this hospital environment. The theme of the voyages of Captain James Cook (who was born locally) has been introduced to link the hospital with the local area and to give the hospital a sense of coherence as a single building. NHS Estates, the organisation responsible for overseeing quality in NHS buildings nationally, is funding a multidisciplinary research team (Architecture, Anthropology, Medicine and Art) from the Universities of Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne, to evaluate this new hospital environment. The research objective is to evaluate the extent to which a planned approach to architecture, art and design in a major NHS Hospital has a beneficial impact on patients’ and visitors’ experience of the hospital and on patient and staff well-being. A range of methodological approaches are being employed for different parts of the research. To elicit information regarding the briefing process and explore how concepts such as ‘patient centred care’ were operationalised throughout the design and construction process, interviews were conducted with key players in the planning and design of the hospital: architects, managers, planners and clinicians who advised on the design of individual departments. To facilitate comparison of responses to the contrasting environments, the study includes pre and post-build phases using semi-structured interviews and a questionnaire survey with patients, visitors and staff. These are being carried out in four inpatient units, six outpatient units and in selected general areas in one of the component hospitals as well as the new building. This paper discusses the methodological approaches adopted in the research project and draws selectively on parts of the large data sets which are currently being built up. In particular the paper will examine how abstract aspirations for high quality health care are realised in the design of the building; how key users (patients, visitors and staff) experience differing health care environments, how conscious they are of the quality of the buildings and how they react to particular places and artwork projects.