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Karlsson and VLA’s New Psychiatric Hospital in Slagelse wins AR Healthcare Award

A bold new psychiatric hospital has been recognised by the AR’s inaugural Healthcare Award

The prize went to a 1.05 billion Krone (£126 million) psychiatric hospital in Slagelse, Denmark, which was inaugurated in August last year.

Foster’s Maggie’s Centre for cancer care in Manchester was one of three finalists, alongside Rural Urban Framework’s Angdong Hospital in Baoxing County, rural China.

The new award seeks to celebrate the most ambitious healthcare projects built within the last five years, ranging from small-scale clinics and doctors’ surgeries to hospitals, medical centres and university medical departments. Other schemes considered included recovery and rehabilitation buildings and care homes.

Award judge Klavs Hyttel, partner at Scandinavian practice CF Møller, said the winning design was ‘a powerful example of a persistent approach to create healing and stimulating settings in a large-scale building’.

He added: ‘It is a huge achievement that it accommodates both general psychiatric beds and secured forensic psychiatric wards, bringing everyday life and architecture – with ambitions in terms of design and strong relations between outside and inside – into the building.

‘The more we deinstitutionalise and humanise hospitals in scale, materials and idiom, the higher the quality of convalescence for the patients. It is a building for wellbeing giving dignity to patients, relatives and staff.’

Fellow judge Patty Hopkins, founding partner of London-based Hopkins Architects, added: ‘The architects of the new psychiatric hospital have successfully merged several existing neighbouring hospitals into one huge hospital that doesn’t feel like one. The disposition of the buildings cleverly enhances integration with the surroundings, with the necessary security and overseeing of patients.’

Michel Mossessian, founder of London practice Mossessian Architecture, joined Hyttel and Hopkins on the three-strong judging panel. He praised the other finalists, describing the Maggie’s Centre as a ‘happy place for poignant moments’ with ‘lightness and delicate scale’.

He added: ‘Angdong Hospital is refreshing for its authenticity and its striking presence in the townscape. Austere and humble, the complex is as urban as it is intimate.’ 

Christian Karlsson, partner at award winners Karlsson Arkitekter, said the team that worked on the pshchiatric hospital was ‘very honoured’ to receive international recognition for the project through the AR Healthcare award. He said: ’It has been an interesting process and a great challenge to develop new ways for the mental [health] treatment and care. Therefore, it is very satisfying to receive acknowledgment for creating quality architecture for the ones who need it the most.’

A full study of each project is featured in the November issue of the Architectural Review.