Guiding Light: Rigshospitalet

Located in the middle of central Copenhagen, Denmark, Rigshospitalet was already one of the country’s largest and most prominent university hospitals when it set out to add a 700,000-square-foot wing. Among the project goals was to create a daylight-driven design that provides an inspiring environment for staff and patients and an adaptable setting to support future working conditions for the clinical staff, says Mette Dan-Weibel, healthcare director at Link Arkitektur (Copenhagen), which designed the project with 3XN (Copenhagen).

The solution was to design the North Wing as a series of V-shaped folded structures that are tied together by a central corridor. Dan-Weibel says the zigzag shape serves several purposes: It maximizes access to daylight and views to the greenspaces outside; ensures proximity between functions and collaborative departments, such as surgery, recovery, and the intensive care unit (ICU), thus improving walking distances and working conditions for staff; and enables separate onstage and offstage traffic flows.

Completed in January 2020, the new addition features 209 patient rooms (including 196 private rooms), 33 operating rooms, an ICU for neurological and neurosurgical patients with 20 private ICU rooms and 10 recovery beds, and outpatient clinics.

Organizationally, the V-shaped structures create five atriums that serve as recreational spaces for patients as well as orientation marks to ease wayfinding. Two spiral staircases and four central elevator towers connect the patient and outpatient clinic floors to the central common area, while waiting areas are located near the two staircases on each floor. To further simplify orientation, each floor is assigned a dedicated color scheme applied to doors, flooring, and selected walls, while artwork is placed in strategic locations, including the atriums, lobbies, and high-traffic areas.

As for its look toward the future, the design introduces standardized rooms that easily can be utilized for different functions. For example, office spaces are built with the same structure as operating rooms to transition to surgical or ICU spaces, if needed. Overall, Dan-Weibel says keeping the needs of patients and staff front and center helped the project team deliver an optimal environment. “The well-being of the patients and the work environment of the clinical staff has guided the design of the project,” he adds.

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