Henning Larsen Architects recently won an international design competition with their plans for the new Odense University Hospital in Denmark. Situated close to the city center amidst a scenic old-growth forest, the OUH will use the surrounding landscape as a way to heal its patients. The holistic facility features a light footprint that incorporates nature at every turn to create an environment replete with peace and serenity. Daylight floods in through the glass-lined buildings, and rainwater will be collected to feed the many ponds and surrounding landscape.
Hospital buildings at the OUH are closely clustered together in a dense circle, which is surrounded by a pedestrian ring and walkways that shoot off in spokes from the center. Visitors and patients are encouraged to stroll around the property and take in the landscape, which features dense old forests, extensive fields, hedges, ponds and channels. The western part of the property will remain completely undeveloped to maintain the feel of the countryside and provide opportunities for recreation. Even the inside of the hospital offers views of the tranquil countryside.
The buildings are all designed to maximize daylighting, and their height is kept below the height of the tallest old-growth tree. Rainwater is collected from the buildings and other impermeable areas to feed into a large wet meadow that will encourage a greater biodiversity of animals and plants. As Henning Larsen Architects says, “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. ”