Commissioned by Friluftssykehuset Foundation, the Outdoor Care Retreats offer “physical and psychological respite” for patients, and are designed by Snøhetta to contrast with the two hospitals.
The first cabin is situated one hundred meters from the entrance of the capital’s Oslo University Hospital, while the other is in south Norway by the Sørlandet Hospital in Kristiansand.
“Only a short walking distance from two of Norway’s largest hospitals, the secluded wooden shelters are designed to make hospitalisation easier for patients and their families”, explained the Oslo- and New York-based architecture studio.
“The space can be used for treatment and contemplation, and for spending time with relatives and friends away from the hospital corridors. The cabins are open to every patient connected to the hospitals regardless of disease group.”
The angular forms of Outdoor Care Retreats were modelled on the “playful construction of wooden tree cabins typically made by children”.
Elevated off the ground, both 35-square-metre cabins are made from skewed blocks of wood that will turn grey over time, helping them blend in with their surroundings.
They each have a main room, a smaller side room for conversation and treatment, and a bathroom. They are accessed by wooden boardwalks that lead onto a small terrace.
Both cabins are accessible for wheelchair users, and have angled entrances clad in black zinc, which are large enough to accommodate hospital beds.
The interiors of the Outdoor Care Retreats are lined with oak, echoing the natural materiality of the neighbouring forests, and feature fold out tables in the walls.
Large openable glass windows and a circular skylight bring nature into the space, allowing “visitors can peek into the woods, smell the damp forest floor, and listen to the sound of trickling water while still being inside the cabin”.
In the main rooms, Snøhetta has also incorporated big, colourful pillows that be moved around freely, “allowing children to build huts, or lie down to gaze at the canopies”.
“The Outdoor Care Retreat provides a peaceful space where visitors can benefit from the therapeutic qualities of nature”, explained Maren Østvold Lindheim a child psychologist at the Oslo University Hospital, who was one of the initiators of the project.
“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, and contribute to better disease management.”
More recently, it completed a 6,000-square-metre fishing facility in Norway, and unveiled a masterplan for island-like student district in Budapest.
Photography is by Ivar Kvaal.
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