Just a short walk away from two of Norway’s largest hospitals in Oslo resides a tranquil forest featuring the trickling Sognsvann Creek. It’s in this lush oasis that Norwegian architectural and design firm Snøhetta has built the Outdoor Care Retreat, associated with the Friluftssykehuset Foundation.
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Comprising a scattering of cabins reminiscent of the tree houses Norwegian children grow up playing in, the Outdoor Care Retreat is meant to serve as a refuge for long-term hospital patients.
"The space can be used for treatment and contemplation, and for spending time with relatives and friends away from the hospital corridors. The cabins are open to every patient connected to the hospitals, regardless of disease group," explain the architects.
The project allows nature to provide a healing respite for patients who’ve been kept in isolation. For that purpose, the interiors have been left relatively bare, in stark contrast to the crowded, tall hospital buildings they’re associated with.
The square, 115-square-foot cabins are made of reclaimed oak that will turn gray over time, and ultimately completely blend into its surroundings. The exterior uses asymmetrical blocks of wood, mimicking branches that extend out into nature. An angled, black zinc door is easily large enough to accommodate both several wheelchairs and hospital beds.
Inside, the spaces include a main room, a smaller room for conversation and treatment, and a bathroom—large enough for a whole family to comfortably reside. The large glass windows let ample sunlight in, and can be fully opened for a truly immersive experience. By keeping the internal design simple enough for the vastness of the forest to take over, Snøhetta has created a calming oasis with playful elements that are charming enough for the whole family.