Designing a human-sized service concept that promotes

health and wellbeing at every age

The concept designed for the new Espoo hospital weaves together human-scale service units from medical and healthcare wards to rehabilitation and wellbeing facilities to create a service campus that is like a small town with its squares, winding streets, parks and city blocks.

The concept of a “bed-less” hospital merges architecture and process design to activate the vitality that everyone possesses, whatever their illnesses or age. The aim is to provide not only hospital care but also other services generating wellbeing for the customers and people living in the vicinity.

Rethinking the hospital

The international architecture competition for the design of a new hospital in Espoo was organised by the City of Espoo together with the Finnish Association of Architects. The goal was to find a design for a hospital that promotes health rather than just treating diseases.

With their entry entitled “Orchid” because of its flower-like shape, K2S Architects won the first prize. According to the panel of judges, the winning design was “a centre of vitality and wellbeing without a trace of institutional feeling”.

The design introduces spatial solutions communicating kindness and humanity. The design concept supports easy access to care services. Within the area, public, semi-public and private spaces are clearly defined. While most of the hospital is to be newly constructed, the design also integrates an existing hospital building for the accommodation of the elderly and a children’s daycare centre.

Ideal conditions for those who are healing and those who provide healing

The hospital wards differ according to their functions, but the similar design and consistent facility solutions enable smooth passage for healthcare professionals between wards. The wards are designed to promote multidisciplinary care and active rehabilitation to support patients’ speedy recovery and return to their usual, independent living in the home environment.

The free mobility spaces around the wards provide flexibility and multifunctionality. For instance, in epidemic situations the level of isolation can be increased gradually.

The patient rooms are arranged around internal courtyards. The rooms face the outside of the building, while the spaces around the inner gardens function both as a recreation area and a common living space. Combined with all the glass facades, generous amounts of sunlight enter the patient rooms.

The green spaces are interlaced with the buildings and inner courtyards, offering direct contact with nature that is a vital part of the healing process. The dynamic shape of the wards encourages patient mobility, and the patient rooms with their beds are designed more for hotel-like overnight sleeping than for constant bed rest. The way in which the facilities are situated in the wards enables adaptable processes for arranging the medical treatment and healthcare services.

Entrance area as the navigational hub and a lively market area

At the heart of the service campus is a multifunctional entrance lobby that is easy to locate. Various healthcare and service units connect to the lobby like flower petals to the centre.

The lobby with its restaurants and courtyards forms a living, breathing market area through which customers navigate to different services related to medical treatment and healthcare, rehabilitation as well as recreation.

Practicality, enduring dignity and changeability are essential in designing and selecting furniture and interior solutions. The interior materials and colours are also chosen to serve customers with impaired eyesight or spatial awareness.

Architectural concept for the new Espoo City Hospital

  • Located in the city of Espoo, Southern Finland
  • Client: City of Espoo
  • Size 56,600 m2
  • Medical and healthcare wards, service facilities for rehabilitation and wellbeing, accommodation for the elderly, daycare centre for children, recreational areas, restaurants
  • Concept designed in 2008

IHDA partner K2S Architects Ltd created and designed the award-winning architectural concept for the new Espoo City Hospital.

Contact 

Kimmo Lintula

Architect, adjunct professor – K2S Architects  

+358 40 564 7576 

kimmo.lintula@k2s.fi