Cabins and Forest-play for Healing at Norwegian Hospitals

Not quite glamping but a fantastic initiative in Norway to bring people closer to nature and its healing benefits, two of the country’s largest hospitals have created ‘outdoor care retreats’ on their

Glamping cabin interior
Photo: IvarKvall/Snøhetta

campuses. Known as friluftssykehuset, they have been built with the help of the Friluftssykehuset Foundation charity in partnership with architects Snøhetta. The retreats have been designed as ‘breathing spaces’ for patients, providing a haven away from the stringent environments of the main hospitals, Oslo University Hospital and Sørlandet Hospital Kristiansand.

The 375sq ft cabins are accessible to wheelchairs and even hospital beds. As Snøhetta describes them: “The luminous cabins are formed like skewed blocks of wood that extend into the landscape through asymmetrical branches.

“Although the cabins are integrated in the hospital campuses, their secluded locations and natural aesthetics allows them to be perceived as a place of their own. They are a place of muted magic, a place out of the ordinary that provides generous and much-needed breathing space for visitors of all ages,”

Maren Østvold Lindheim, a child psychologist who works in the Oslo hospital’s Department of Child and Adolescent Mental Health, initiated the idea of making a dedicated space that was accessible to more children.

“Bringing patients outside the hospital helps them relax and find the strength to get through their treatment,” says Lindheim. “Being in nature gives them the feeling of possibility: they have more energy, more hope and more creativity.

“Nature provides spontaneous joy and helps patients relax. Being in natural surroundings brings them a renewed calm that they can bring back with them into the hospital. In this sense, the Outdoor Care Retreat helps motivate patients to get through treatment and contribute to better disease management.”

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