Norwegian hospitals add woodland
cabins & forest play for healing

We are fortunate to have hospitals – but they are not the most inspired places. They are stark and sterile, they have strict rules and not much soul. They may do wonders for corporeal concerns – but the more we learn about the importance of emotional well-being as it relates to good physical health, the more it seems that the hospital environment is lacking.

In Norway, however, they have taken this to heart and are exploring a workaround with young patients in mind – they have found a way to let nature help. The health benefits of spending time outside have been proven again and again, so why not let sick children have some time amongst the trees?

With this in mind, the country’s two largest hospitals, with the help of the Friluftssykehuset Foundationcharity, have created Outdoor Care Retreats known as friluftssykehuset. Built in partnership with the architectural firm, Snøhetta, the spaces offer patients a welcome reprieve from the stringent treatments and isolation that often accompany long-term hospitalization.

The term friluftssykehuset comes from the Norwegian concept of friluftsliv – the importance of spending time in nature – combined with the word fro hospital, sykehus. The first of the retreats is tucked into the lush forest near a creek, a short walk from from the entrance of Norway’s largest hospital, Oslo University Hospital. The sister building cozies up to a pond in the deciduous woodlands by Sørlandet Hospital Kristiansand in the South of Norway.

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