Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
New Odense University Hospital and Faculty of Health Sciences in Denmark by Henning Larsen Architects
March 18th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
Designing a hospital in the size of the New Odense University Hospital (New OUH) extends far beyond land register, building structure, politics and law. Thus, the day-to-day experiences that patients, employees, relations or students take with them are of crucial importance. This is what the New OUH as an organisation and building should uphold.
In this situation, architecture is faced with two overall challenges. Firstly, to create holistic, worthy and consistent treatment facilities that make patients and their relations feel welcome and respected – and, at the same time, to provide the framework for the strongest professional competencies. Secondly, there is an essential challenge in providing employees and students with the best future-proof setting for a dynamic and inspirational interdisciplinary research environment. Ensuring a high level in the fields of knowledge, research and development will always benefit the treatment of patients now – and in the future.
Numerous research projects have demonstrated that nature has a positive influence on patients’ recovery. The objective of this project is to create a truly healing hospital environment merging all accessible knowledge, space, landscape and technology.
Building a hospital in the size of the New OUH involves a broad range of people with very different wishes and requirements for design and layout. Some functions are best suited for the “large building” – a continuous and compact building stock with short logistic and technical distances. Other functions thrive best in smaller, more intimate units. Achieving the right balance has been one of the main objectives of the project.
This balance finds expression in the simple distribution of functions where all visitation, diagnostic and treatment functions are placed in the lower, continuous floors while the wards and outpatient clinics are located in the upper, detached building volumes. Thus, a clear division of the weighty treatment functions in the “large building” and the less demanding nursing functions in the smaller buildings is achieved.
The wings of the individual clusters are placed on top of the base in an open and airy structure that provides ample daylight and a view of the surrounding landscape. The wings are coupled in pairs and share the interjacent, transparent entrance areas.
The new Faculty of Health Sciences (SUND) connects the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) to the New OUH. The new faculty consists of an undulating building formation of laboratories and joint atriums. The longitudinal street stretching from the existing university through the entire faculty to the Knowledge Centre at the New OUH – only broken by the natural, transverse crossing of the Killerup Rende channel – constitutes an important connecting zone through the entire complex.
Landscape and buildings
The New OUH and Faculty of Health Sciences are situated in a very special location in Odense – close to the city centre but, at the same time, in a scenic landscape with dense old forests, extensive fields, hedges, ponds and channels. The hospital constitutes a compact building stock with effective logistics and great flexibility as regards future extensions. The western part of the landscape will remain undeveloped to maintain and enhance the experience of the extensive Funen countryside. The densely built-up area provides a large open space with great recreational potential.
Rainwater from the roofs and impermeable areas is used locally to create new natural experiences and added value in the hospital area. The large wet meadow with large and small lakes creates a natural connection between the university and New OUH. The landscape design as a whole enhances the natural slope of the countryside and supports the drainage of surface water to the wetland and Killerup Rende.
The New OUH has an open ring shape that opens up to the north-west and Killerup Rende and embraces the extensive countryside with wet meadows all the way into the middle of the new building stock. Here, the buildings are reflected in the clear rainwater, surrounded by flowering meadows and a rich animal life, including birds, amphibians and grazing sheep. The height of the tallest buildings equals the one of the old forests and the characteristic cultivated fields outside the built-up area are preserved.
The landscapes offering the most peace and safety are wild, watery and have a great biodiversity of animals and plants. The healing effect is created by the sensuous experience of the green luxuriance of the leaves, the colours of the flowers, the smell of the mould, the rippling of the water, the chirping of the birds and the humming insects. Hence, these qualities have been essential in the design of the landscape surrounding the New OUH.
Three overall elements have been in focus in the landscape design process, all of which offer their own individual scale and composition of plants: the wet meadows, the apple grove and the adjacent outdoor spaces made up of small but extremely varied areas. The path Æblestien is preserved. It stretches from the Hollufgård estate to the Science Park and is an old dike considered as an important cultural historical heritage.
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