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Competition: Copenhagen Children’s Hospital, Denmark

An international design competition has been launched for a new 1.365 billion DKK children’s hospital in Copenhagen (Deadline: 5 September)

Planned to complete in 2024, the 58,660m² project will create a new integrated wing dedicated to childcare at the Danish capital’s prestigious Rigshospitalet hospital.

Dubbed BørneRiget, the new facility aims to deliver the ‘world’s best hospital’ for treating children, adolescents, women in labour and their families.



Source: Image by News Oresund


According to the brief: ‘We want a building that support children and their families when they are in the hospital and a building which is closer to young children and mothers’ feelings and needs than any other construction.

‘The goal is to create a building that can serve as a ‘centre of excellence’ where treatment and care is thought out from the family’s perspective and from children and young people’s ability to play and learn as an active part of a patient.’

Founded in 1757, the high-profile Rigshospitalet – which translates as the National, State or Kingdom Hospital – is today one of the most prominent buildings on Copenhagen’s skyline.

The 16-storey Jørgen Stærmose-designed Modernist structure was completed in 1978 and is one of the tallest buildings in the historic centre of the capital.

Overlooking the Fælledparken green space – the hospital hosts 1,120 beds, 8,000 staff and treats around 420,000 outpatients every year.



Competition site

Rising up to 60 metres high, the new children’s hospital will be constructed on a 17,900m² plot on the western edge of the Rigshospitalet campus overlooking Fælledparken’ skate park.

Proposals must feature a baby delivery suite, adult beds, child and adolescent beds, diagnostic areas, surgical facilities and supporting technical support zones.

Local practice 3XN won a competition for a 68,000m² extension to the hospital in central Copenhagen four years ago.

The first stage – a 7,400m² patient hotel – completed one year ago on a plot next to the proposed BørneRiget. The second stage delivering a new 200-bed North Wing for the hospital is on site and due to finish in 2018.

Six shortlisted teams will receive 450,000 DKK each to participate in the competition’s first stage starting this autumn. Bids will be assessed on their function, architecture, technology and costs.

Three winning teams – set to be announced in summer 2017 – will receive a further 450,000 DKK each to draw up detailed tenders in the final stage before an overall design is selected. Around 60,000 DKK worth of travel and subsistence expenses may also be refunded.

Applications may be in English, Danish, Swedish or Norwegian.

How to apply


12pm local time on 5 September

Contact details

Bent Ottesen
Blegdamsvej 9
Copenhagen Ø


View the contract notice for more information

Alder Hey Children’s Hospital case study: Q&A with Benedict Zucchi

The director of architecture at BDP discusses lessons learned designing a new children’s hospital in Liverpool, England

What are the core requirements of a modern children’s hospital such as your Alder Hey project?

The first requirement of any hospital project must be to provide state-of-the-art clinical functionality: the highest quality spaces for patients, families and staff with optimum adjacencies between different departments and clear segregated flows for the public, clinical staff and facilities management. This requirement in particular tends to make hospital projects a challenging three-dimensional puzzle, where clear thinking is required to reconcile the functional imperatives with the aspiration for a building that has simple wayfinding and feels as non-institutional as possible.



Alder Hey Children’s Hospital by BDP

Which design processes and architectural techniques are available to architects seeking to achieve a similar success?

Architecture has a very significant role to play in transcending the merely utilitarian and producing an environment that is intrinsically therapeutic – somewhere that contributes to the healing process through its physical qualities. Key to this is breaking down the scale of what are often very large buildings into visually distinct elements. This scaling down is even more important in a children’s hospital where more than half the patients are under the age of 10. Other advantages of what might be called an ‘urban design’ approach are that it assists in finding one’s way around, opens up spaces to let in as much daylight as possible and encourages the incorporation of a variegated public realm, including outdoor spaces and gardens.



Alder Hey Children’s Hospital by BDP

At Alder Hey and in our current project for the New Children’s Hospital in Dublin nature has been a central feature of our concepts, ensuring that the majority of rooms enjoy external views over gardens and that wherever possible the gardens are accessible for active use by patients and staff. Proximity to the outside (by contrast with the traditional deep-plan approach of an older generation of hospitals) also underpins the drive for improved sustainability with increased potential for natural ventilation, particularly in wards, and daylight.

What considerations are important when designing a new landmark children’s hospital intended to revolutionise standards of care?

The integration of landscape together with play areas, interactive art installations and the engaging quality of the architecture itself that celebrates the life and ‘buzz’ of the hospital, most evident in the entrance concourses in both projects, combine to create a welcoming ambiance that helps to ‘distract’ children and destress family visits. It is these qualities that create a sense of place, transcending the generic quality of so many traditional (corridor dominated) hospitals and establishing an identity that captures the imagination of children and young people. Our experience suggests that this will be most effective when everyone can rally around a compelling and simple design vision – a ‘big picture’ that is easy to understand but also flexible enough to accommodate the multiple contributions of different stakeholders through an extended design process without losing touch with its inherent initial appeal. The ‘Children’s Ark’ was the nickname given to our first paediatric project, the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton, a suitably nautical image for its seaside location; the ‘Hill in the Park’ encapsulated the relationship of Alder Hey to adjacent Springfield Park and the Trust’s ambition to become the world’s first truly green hospital.



Alder Hey Children’s Hospital by BDP