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Radiolarians Used By Danish Landscape Architects Drawing Hospital Surroundings

By Dexter Landau

In the outskirts of Aarhus, Denmark's second largest city, a large scale hospital project is underway. Danish landscape architects Schonherr have been inspired by radiolarians in their work for the design of the surroundings of the new hospital.

Skejby Hospitalx's existing 153,000 sqm are being expanded with an additional 223,000, merging all the small parts of Aarhus University Hospital into one campus. Naturally, a project of this scale demands surroundings that are easy to navigate, simply and peacefully guiding pedestrians to where they need to be, but at the same time providing a nice and calming atmosphere.

The concept is based on the structure of a cell. This can be seen in the road network, planting, atriums etc. Fittingly, the cell represents the smallest component of life, and radiolaria, a single celled marine organism, is widely seen as the origin of life.

As seen in the images, five atriums in the northern part of the hospital have been shaped as radiolarians. Each atrium is created as its own unique radiolaria. Atriums in the southern part have been shaped as pollen, another small structure found in nature.

The atriums are intended to form part of a green Hospital, emphasizing and utilizing nature's positive and healing effect. As no two species of radiolaria look the same, the appearance of the gardens will differ from one to the next, but at the same time fit together in perfect coherence.

"The idea is that these atriums can provide patients, visitors and employees with spaces for wonder and thought. Hopefully, it will help their thoughts to wander free from the systematics and challenges located on the other side of the Hospital walls, working mentally as an alternative to rational thinking." - Kirsten Vestergaard Nielsen, Landscape Architect at Schonherr.

The concept has even influenced the manhole covers used in the atriums. Each atrium will feature 50 specially designed cast iron covers made to fit into the overall concept of the hospital surroundings, beautifully showing how even the most simple things don't have to be limited to their function.

Radiolarians can already be seen as marks on the asphalt, guiding pedestrians from parking areas to the Hospital. They work as pointers and crosswalks, but again they also represent something different than what is typically seen in traffic.

Zooming out on the Hospital surroundings, fractal patterns will be seen everywhere, completing the idea of how the smallest structures have been used to inspire this large scale building project.

The concept as a whole has been developed by the advisory team 'DNU' consisting of C. F. Moller Denmark A/S, Cubo Architects A/S, Soren Jensen Engineers, Ramboll Denmark A/S, ALECTIA A/S, Lohfert & Lohfert A/S and Schonherr A/S.