Snøhetta designs two care retreats as therapeutic aids for Norwegian hospitals
Drawings courtesy of Friluftssykehuset Foundation (https://www.friluftssykehuset.no/)
Exterior view of Snøhetta’s care retreat at the Oslo University Hospital; photo courtesy of Snøhetta
Snøhetta designs two timber care retreats as therapeutic aids for Norwegian hospitals
Can architecture be a useful therapeutic aid?
We all know how good (or bad) architecture has an impact on people in hospitals, community health centers, hospices, and nursing homes. Yet, there are very few examples of buildings designed to be medical aids in themselves. Among them, two timber cabins designed by Snøhetta and built in forests on the outskirts of Oslo and Kristiansand really stand out.
The design of the two care retreats was commissioned to Snøhetta by Norway’s charity Friluftssykehuset Foundation (Friluftssykehuset means “Open Air Hospital” in Norwegian) in order to install them in proximity of two of the largest hospitals in Norway, the Oslo University Hospital (Rikshospitalet) and the Sørlandet Hospital Kristiansand.
Developed in collaboration with the Department of Psychosomatics and CL-Child Psychiatry at Oslo University Hospital, the two 35-square-meter / 376-square-foot outdoor care retreats are intended to provide the patients of the hospitals a peaceful space where visitors can benefit from the therapeutic qualities of nature.
“Nature provides spontaneous joy and helps patients relax. Being in natural surroundings brings them a renewed calm that they can bring back with them into the hospital. In this sense, the Outdoor Care Retreat helps motivate patients to get through treatment and contribute to better disease management”, says Child Psychologist Maren Østvold Lindheim at the Oslo University Hospital.
In designing the retreats, Snøhetta was inspired by the “spontaneous architecture” of the wooden treehouses so popular among children from all over the world.
Fully accessible, each modular cabin contains a main/living room, a smaller room for conversation and treatment, and a bathroom. The interior of the cabins is clad in Norwegian oak and is provided with colorful pillows, folding desks, and containers for medical equipment.
Large trapezoidal windows and a circular skylight help to establish a relaxing visual and psychological relationship between the patients and the lush natural landscape around.
The cabins can be used for treatment and contemplation. All patients of the hospitals, regardless of disease group, can book a cabin for spending time with relatives and friends away from the hospital corridors.
Oslo University Hospital’s care retreat; plan, sections, and elevations; courtesy of Friluftssykehuset Foundation
Interior views and details of the care retreat in Oslo; photos courtesy of Snøhetta
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