A couple months back I was fortunate to be able to visit and have a tour of the Copenhagen Center for Cancer and Health in Denmark. To know a little bit about why my interest of seeing such a place it is enough to say I have lost my grandmother to a cancer. Being diagnosed with cancer of any kind is like an opening a That door you hoped never to need crossing trough, simply because no case is as any other, and even with today advanced knowledge and technology there is still so much of unknown.
Designed by NORD Architects with an area of 2,250 sq.m. the center is located close to the City Hall, walking distance to the Rigshospitalet- the Copenhagen University Hospital. What makes the winning design iconic is its human scale, warm tonality, sustainable and renewable materials, as well as the ground philosophy of caring for those in need without stigmatizing. By now it is neither a question nor a secret anymore the positive effect which design can have on human health. The center is constructed of multiple low scale buildings, combined together in one, circling an outdoor courtyard. Joining elements in each of the individual pieces are the triangular raised roofs, and as what it seems randomly positioned windows (touring the inside I have understood the purpose for their different height was to accommodate a possibility of all age visitors to have a eye view to the outside).
Multiple rooms with various shapes and sizes are available at the center, allowing for one on one meeting, group exercise, comfortable rest, team games or simply an hour for yourself with a favorite book. Atmosphere of ease is accented by the seemingly unnoticed personal and volunteers which blend well with the one stepping trough the door in a search for hope. Possibility to sit on a wooden carved table and share small bites over an occasional talk while still being able to receive a valuable information concerning your recovery, possibilities for improvements, new research studies, etc.
Many of healthcare facilities still function on the principle of centralized institutions (which is financially beneficial, it is supported by knowledgeable professionals, utilizes the already build structures), however it is the sterile atmosphere along with the mental stamp which associates hospitals as places for sick and unhealthy are often the negative recovery factors. The Cancer Center in Copenhagen is a simple example of how human scale architecture, physically separated from the central hospital could infuse fresh hope in a fight with a life taking illness such as cancer.
image courtesy of: Australian design review
image courtesy of: kaspernoergaard.com
image courtesy of: www.pinterest.com