St. Olav’s Hospital has received international acclaim for its innovative architecture that brings nature, the city, employees and patients together in an unconventional way. Taking a holistic approach to integrated precinct planning was the key to the winning design in the Norwegian innovation in universal design awards. St Olav’s Hospital is not a separate precinct. The buildings are merged into a public landscape where hospital staff, patients, visitors and other workers can utilise the public space. One of the jury members, Ragnhild Aslaksen, said,
“Establishing the concept of inclusive design at the initial stages has been crucial. Choosing a location that placed the hospital in the centre of an open city layout did later lead to challenges when trying to make the concept ‘public’. By offering parts of the buildings for rent, we have made it possible for the city population, employees and patients to mingle using the same restaurants and cafés, and in the open blue-green spaces that act as the ‘lungs’ of the building. An inclusive approach to design in the city also gives environmental benefits, since it becomes easier for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users to get to the hospital. Not least, the central location means that it is close to other public services that are also often used by the hospital.”
You can read more about the St Olav’s ward winning design and also some of the other winners of the innovation in universal design awards. It is good to see human experience included in the design along with functionality – usually the focus of hospital design.