In Næstved, Denmark, lies Livsrum (living space) – a cancer counselling centre designed by Danish architect firm EFFEKT. Livsrum is a project by the Danish Cancer Society and Realdania that includes the construction of seven cancer counselling centres near hospital cancer wards throughout Denmark. Security, homeliness, and openness are the keywords for the counselling centres, while the goal of the project is to help more patients and their relatives – preferably as early in the course of their disease as possible. According to the Danish Cancer Society, architecture plays a significant role in doing this.
Rather than creating a traditional uniform building, the different functions of the Livsrum counselling centre in Næstved are shaped into seven small houses. According to the architects, this building shape enhances richness and variation in the overall spatial experience.
Surrounded by roads on three sides, the centre is not in an ideal spot for a calm and silent environment. Placing the courtyard in the centre of the complex has solved that problem. In this way, the courtyards are protected against noise and are an integrated part of the complex. The look of the building matches its context better than a uniform building would have done.
Each of the small seven houses has its own specific programme and caters for different functions. There is a kitchen, a library, private meeting rooms, a shop, a lounge, a gym and a healthcare facility. At the heart of the building lies the actual Livsrum (living space). This central room creates a natural circulation of people in the complex while all rooms face one of the two courtyards.
“The varying roof heights in combination with the selection of materials equips the building with its own unique architectural character, clearly distinguishing it from the surrounding hospital buildings,” said the architects.
Everyone from kids to the elderly uses the centre. Some are disabled while others come to exercise. Some patients come to meet each other casually while others seek privacy and counselling. The architects therefore designed all the spaces in the house individually according to their function, thereby creating a varied atmosphere. At the same time, the contact with neighbouring spaces also varies.
With its total of 800 square metres of floor area, the facility has bookshelves that cover entire walls, integrating small window seats. There is a mixture of homelike furnishings throughout the house. The noteworthy architecture has already seen Livsrum featured in the Phaidon Atlas – a survey of the most outstanding works of contemporary world architecture. It has recently won a ‘Building of the Year 2015’ award from online architecture magazine ArchDaily. This award was given to only 14 buildings globally.