On 27 February, Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen cut the ribbon to mark the official opening of the Emergency Centre at Aarhus University Hospital, with over 150,000 m² of new construction. This is a construction project for Denmark's first super-hospital – designed by C.F. Møller, Cubo Architects and Schønherr.
The Emergency Centre, the first large element of the New University Hospital in Aarhus, is ready for use. This is an ultra-modern hospital that will be a pioneering project both in Denmark and internationally when it comes to the concept of "healing architecture" in the healthcare sector.
On 27 February, the first major element of the overall super-hospital project was officially opened. This hospital has been created with systematic application of Knowledge and Evidence-Based Design.
Healing architecture makes the hospital human
This means that the concept of "healing architecture" has influenced every decision concerning the hospital's physical design. This relates to every aspect, from the design of single-bed wards, and the use of daylight and flows of light in all rooms, to straightforward way-finding, flexible functionalities for future development, and the design of the landscape and garden spaces around the hospital.
"Fundamentally, the aim has been to meet as many as possible of patients' needs, requirements and expectations, promote the involvement of patients' relatives, and ensure optimum working conditions and streamlined workflows for all employees. This will ensure a hospital that puts people at the centre. For us, this is vital to ensuring that the complex is a hospital city on a human scale," say Tom Danielsen and Peter Dalsgaard, architects and partners at C.F. Møller and Cubo Architects, respectively, about the design of the New University Hospital in Aarhus.
A town in the town
The New University Hospital in Aarhus is being added to the existing Aarhus University Hospital in Skejby to create one overall hospital complex. The hospital will be as big as a Danish provincial town, with the same layout as an archetypical town, with an elevated, densely built-up centre.
"We've envisaged the hospital complex organised as a town, with a hierarchy of quarters, streets, plazas and squares. This allows for a diverse and dynamic green urban centre, so that the complex can serve as university hospital, regional centre and basic hospital for the region's entire population," says Tom Danielsen, architect and partner at C.F. Møller.
As for modern urban development, future perspectives are incorporated in the overall design. The hospital is designed and organised to flexibly meet future requirements of technology, treatment methods and working methods.
The overall complex is divided into professional communities with their own identities. This ensures a clear structure, with three primary elements: a two-storey base with treatment functions; wards which rise above the base up to a height of four storeys; and in the middle the coming "Forum" central arrival area, where public functions are located at the foot of three multi-storey blocks. This includes a main reception area, conference centre, shops, bank, cinema and other service functions surrounded by green areas.
"The architecture's starting point is people, with the human scale as its measuring gauge. The structure of the new hospital not only ensures that patients and visitors can find their way around the complex, but also lets them settle down and help themselves in the hospital city," says Peter Dalsgaard, partner at Cubo Architects.
Healing hospital landscape
At the New University Hospital, patients, staff and visitors will have access to or views of the surrounding landscape and more proximate garden spaces. Large, newly-established rainwater lakes will create densely vegetated, recreational meadow areas that are accessible for both the hospital's users and local residents. Car park areas will be connected with trees. "The landscape is a vital element of the overall hospital function," says Rikke Juul Gram, partner at Schønherr.
"The hospital's many large courtyard spaces are designed as fertile, green gardens, inspired by unicellular animals and pollen - the smallest forms of life in the great hospital," she says.
"The gardens fulfil patients' need for calm, recreation and restitution close to the individual hospital departments, and also offer spaces for relatives and staff to pause for thought and rest," says Rikke Juul Gram.
C.F. Møller was behind the original Aarhus University Hospital in Skejby, and to a great extent the existing hospital has been the basis for the construction of the New University Hospital.
"The adviser group has therefore also retained the human scale in the hospital's base, with two- and three-storey redbrick buildings," explains Tom Danielsen, C.F. Møller.
The higher buildings in the centre are light, with coloured markings, to make way-finding easy. The overall harmonious balance between architecture, logistics, digital information platforms, art and landscape make it easy for patients and relatives to find their way around the hospital.
C.F. Møller, Cubo Architects and landscape architects Schønherr, as well as Rambøll, Alectia and Søren Jensen Rådgivende Ingeniørfirma – combined as Rådgivergruppen DNU – together won the project for the New University Hospital in Aarhus in an international project competition held in 2007.
The hospital city's total size: 500,000 m²
216,000 m² new construction, 159,000 m² conversion = 375,000 m², site: around 970,000 m². 797 beds, 43 dialysis places, 80 hotel beds.
The first phase was officially opened on 27 February 2017. The next phases will be achieved on an ongoing basis, and the full project is expected to be completed in 2020.
What is Knowledge and Evidence-Based Design?
Knowledge and Evidence-Based Design at the New University Hospital in Aarhus is about using the best information available from research and evaluation of previous construction projects to create optimum, healing architecture.