The Akershus University Hospital in Oslo is one of Europe's most modern hospital designs. Photo: Torben Eskerod

British architecture award to Norwegian hospital

The most prestigious prize in the healthcare built environment, the Building Better Healthcare Awards, has declared the Akershus University Hospital in Oslo, designed by C. F. Møller Architects, as winner of the Award for Best International Design.

The UK Building Better Healthcare Award for Best International Design is intended to reward an outstanding project that contributes to new thinking and is relevant to the UK's future experience of delivering healthcare.

The Akershus University Hospital in Oslo is one of Europe's most modern hospital designs and intended to appear not as a traditional institutional building; but as a friendly, informal place with open and comprehensible surroundings oriented towards the patients and their relatives.

C. F. Møller has worked consciously to integrate the daily lives of the patients and "the world outside". The aim is to make admission as secure and as close to the patient's normal life as possible. Despite its size, the complex forms a comprehensible whole which is easy to find your way around, while at the same time allowing patients to feel at home in their departments.

The internal, open boulevard, offering such services as a hairdresser, library, café and pharmacy, is similar to an urban environment and normal daily life. The boulevard is five storeys tall with a glass roof. Daylight plays an important role in making the various areas feel welcoming and secure, whilst the use of wood and other materials familiar to the patient from their home environments help create an atmosphere of safety and belonging.

The Akershus University Hospital is also a highly sustainable design, making use of locally sourced materials, and geo-thermal energy to provide 85% of the hospital's heating and more than 40% of the total energy consumption. Short distances between functions, a clear organisation and extensive use of modern technology including robotics give staff more time for patients.

The design is the result of a 1st prize in an international competition, won by C. F. Møller Architects in 2000. The buildings were completed on time and within budget, and inaugurated in 2008 after a four year construction period.

The Building Better Healthcare Awards have been recognising, rewarding and celebrating best practice and world-class architecture, design, facilities and estates management in the healthcare built environment for a decade. Open to building, improvement and design projects which demonstrate all-round excellence, the BBH Awards celebrate the achievements of individuals and teams working in either the public or private sectors.

The 2009 awards attracted a record 156 entries across a range of categories, and the final stage of judging under the chair of Susan Francis, special advisor for Health at the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), involved individual site visits of the shortlisted entries before choosing the winner.

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