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Playful hospital design leads to logical layout

“Though a large-scale hospital it achieves an atmosphere of belonging and a homely feeling, which is needed in a children’s hospital,” WAN Awards Judging Panel

Project: Mary Elizabeths Hospital

Award: Future Projects Healthcare, Gold, 2023

Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Architect: 3XN and Arkitema

Client: The Capital Region of Denmark

Mary Elizabeths Hospital, Copenhagen’s new children’s hospital, will accommodate up to 900 patients as well as 1,200 doctors, nurses and other staff members. With a strong focus on the patients’ mental wellbeing, specialists will come to the patient – not the other way around – allowing children to remain with their families and retain a day-to-day routine as much as possible. The building is designed to facilitate this patient-focused practice. A defining characteristic of the design is that, in plan, the building resembles two hands with outstretched fingers. Reminiscent of a child’s hand painting, the playful design goes beyond pure symbolism and provides a rigorous logic to the hospital’s layout. Busier communal, circulation and administrative areas are located around an atrium in the hands’ “palms” which allows the quieter, more private “fingers” to accommodate a ward of six patient rooms and a winter garden at each “fingertip” with views into the city and adjacent parks.

Design highlights
The hospital's organisational structure ensures minimal walking distances between each area of the building and breaks the large building down to a more friendly and domestic scale that will feel familiar to the young patients. By breaking away from conventional orthogonal layouts and volumes common in many hospitals, it creates a strong natural flow for easy wayfinding, contributing to safe and effortless navigation around the building. 


Photo credit: 3XN

  • LEAD ARCHITECTS: 3XN team: Stig Vesterager Gothelf, June Jung, Anne Strandgaard Hansen, Torsten Wang, Kasper Hertz, Gry Kjær, Louise Villumsen, Søren Nersting, Marius Prom Colin. Arkitema team: Pernille Birkel Fagerström, Christian Schousboe Platz, Lene Wrængmose Christensen, John Pries Jensen, Anna Van, Bent Stand, Julie Keinicke Jensen, Shirin Moradian, Lisa Rebekka Vinter, Maria Nørgaard Bergqvist
    LANDSCAPE: Kristine Jensen Tegnestue


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