Spaces for Life are seven different projects combining the best architectural aspects from healthcare institutions and your home to support patients battling cancer. Danish studio Cornelius Vöge designed the final project in the series and is getting set for the project launch.
Keys….You open the door. As you enter, even though you don ́t really smell anything in particular, you recognize the scent. Your shoulders tend to hang looser, your breathing relaxes and maybe even your thoughts change to calmer thoughts?
Where are you?
Home. –Is where the heart is. It’s your personal sanctuary. Being home is always best. However, when you are really ill, it cannot always provide you with what you need.
So where can you go?
To the white coats? The green linen blouses? To the place with the clocks and the distinctive smell of sterile doors and handles? And when there, even though you don ́t hear anything in particular, you recognize the dull sounds and the quiet conversations.
Where are you now?
In a hospital. Here, they can treat your illness and can make you well again. Yet sometimes all you long for is the feeling of being home.
This dilemma has been a theme for more than a decade in Denmark with the recognition that the home environment can play a part in helping people battle serious illness. From this emerged the “Spaces for life” series to assist people struggling with cancer. September 2017 will see the final of seven initiatives in this series completed, with the common theme emphasizing how to feel at home even when you ́re not at home, in particular if you are somewhere receiving treatment for cancer.
The Danish studio Cornelius Vöge are behind the seventh project, which is to be built in Herlev near Copenhagen. Even though their project is the last of seven, the design team decided, after revising the research and the findings from the other 6 projects, to disregard a lot of the source material, as explains Dan Cornelius, founding architect studio “Our site is so very different from all the other sites used for Spaces for Life”, who continues:
“The concept for all the Spaces for Life projects is to create a homely feeling to what is in fact a healthcare institution. But while the other 6 projects had the possibility of working with a typologi as villas, this was not an option in “our” project. Our site had a gigantic hospital in the backyard and a highway by the main entrance, so we had to rethink the concept of homeliness.”
The design team at Cornelius Vöge spend a lot of time trying to find the essence of homeliness. For Dan Cornelius, it was a particularly interesting challenge to define what makes a room safe and comfy to be in, as he states: “We realized that it is a key point when items or situations are recognizable and familiar. This recognition creates a sense of normality. It could be a flower bed, that one sunny spot in your garden or near a window, the fireplace, a hallway, a stuffed bird or a painting of doubtful quality, or anything really”. The next step from there is how to make the implementation believable. In order to achieve this, Dan Cornelius explains how Cornelius Vöge removed everything that one would associate with an institution or a hospital: “We deliberately did everything opposite to the hospital setting that Space for Life was connected to. Different colours, lots of small rooms, gardens and mini-homes. We wanted the visitors and residents to feel safe and embraced”.
The idea about “safe and embraced” arose alongside the general grip of the project as the entire area where the seventh Space for Life project is to be built is situated in a quite lively and noisy neighbourhood with a lot going on.
“To be honest the urban planning around the project was quite messy. Lucky for us, Danish SLA Architects had recently done an outdoor project around Herlev Hospital and we tried to pick up on some of their work to create continuity and calmness for the eye in relation between to the landscape and building”, Dan Cornelius says and continues:
“We really felt an urge to protect the visitors and residents at Space for Life from the mess and noise outside. This is why we came up with the protective screen as a huge part of our design and to help people embrace the space and feel safe. Behind this screen you will find a lot of minor spaces, living areas and gardens, which hopefully will make people feel as much at home as possible to give a semblance of normality and a feel for the simple qualities of life”.