Healthcare Buildings Central Norway demonstrated a highly innovative approach when ordering and constructing a hospital with such a strong focus on patient needs and looking at the design from a holistic perspective. The involvement of patients and relatives as users, in addition to user organisations, was uncompromisingly emphasised as a strategy from day one. Universal design was central throughout the project.
St. Olavs Hospital innovates on several levels. The hospital demonstrates the will to open up the space to the public, ensuring the hospital is not just a destination for the sick, but an asset to the community. The clear layout of the building complexes makes getting around very easy. A cleverly designed reception area gives distinct orientation at the entrance of each building. The recommendations of different users have been included at all levels. Everything from the introduction of single rooms to the organisation of beds and green areas, ample light, air and emphasis on sensory experiences (such as an art programme), all contribute to this being marked as an innovative hospital in the most literal sense.
Wood and other soft and tactile materials have been used throughout the design giving warmth to the interiors. All rooms have a view and the beds are organised as bed clusters, which facilitate better contact with the surroundings and duty room. The different spaces have been carefully designed to interact with the surrounding city whilst maintaining health-focussed spaces such as a long street for ambulances. The various floors have been carefully programmed according to their function whether they are used as an operating theatre, a meeting place or wards. Consequently, each building is self-contained with access to appropriate services. This provides a better overview, swifter treatment, less patient transportation, and a more connected and experience of safety for the patient.
The landscape architecture also contributes to a vibrant and relaxing organic environment in which people can enjoy, heal, rest or find respite. The hospital is consciously open to the rest of the city through its open green areas, street-level cafes and ‘student-life’ feel that aids the well-being of the surrounding community. The jury commends the management of Healthcare Buildings Central Norway for being true to its original intention of focusing on the patient throughout the process. This was done with in uncompromising and interdisciplinary way, including many different participants and contributors. The project scores just as high in terms of urban planning, as it does on the more detailed designs.
Clearly the execution capability, good teamwork and the will to cooperate for a prolonged period of time with all experts, builders and other interest groups were amongst the most important criteria for the success of this esteemed project. The result is a high level of well-being amongst patients, relatives, students and personnel. Today, St. Olavs Hospital attracts international attention, as it sets the tone for modern hospital design.