”Hjältarnas Hus” – a home for heroes

Children suffering from severe illness have a difficult life, often affected by distress and uncertainty. In many cases, these children have to leave their homes and families in order to get the healthcare they need. In five of the six Swedish regions which are responsible for healthcare in the country, there is accommodation for the relatives in the vicinity of the larger paediatric clinics.

A ground-breaking ceremony for the largest of these accommodation units in the region of Norrland – “Hjältarnas Hus” (i.e. “a home for heroes”) in Umeå – is scheduled for Friday. White Arkitekter designed this homelike facility away from difficult treatments and with no medical staff in scrubs within visual range.

Anna-Carin Dahlberg is the head of the Umeå studio of White and has extensive experience working in hospital environments. Having worked at the County Council (the Swedish public administration level responsible for healthcare in Sweden), her experience was put to good use in this project. The goal was to create a warm, comfortable environment with a healing and calm atmosphere, so that children and families can have, to the largest extent possible, a normal everyday life.

”What’s most important for us is that the house contributes to making their hospital stay less sombre. Architecturally speaking, we’re connecting the existing gate guard house with a new building. This will create a very interesting meeting between the old and the new”, says Anna-Carin.

The new building will feature rooms for overnight stays, cooking and social areas. The building can also be expanded so as to accommodate more rooms.

There is no medical treatment taking place at “Hjältarnas Hus”; only health and well-being set the tone. At the planning stage, children, parents and hospital staff had the opportunity to contribute their wishes to the architects. Those staying in this home should be able to choose between privacy, socialising in small groups or participating with bigger crowds for collective activities like music. An Exercise and Playroom is also planned with enough space to include, for instance, a treadmill, a ping-pong table and a soft rug to lie on and relax.

”Our ambition was to create a general warm, homelike impression with natural materials, soft colours and welcoming lighting in all rooms. Pleasant indoor climate and consideration for the environment and long-term sustainability were guiding parameters in our work”, says Anna-Carin.

“Hjältarnas Hus” is located in a beautiful park in the vicinity of, but without even a glimpse of the University Hospital of Umeå (NUS, in its Swedish acronym). The hospital park features space for play and relaxation and is located near large green areas. In the direct vicinity of the rooms, there will be balconies and patios where overnight guests can sit in complete privacy.

The ground-breaking ceremony this Friday will be officiated by children and youngsters associated with the Play Therapy Unit at NUS.

The Västerbotten County Council is building this home and will be rented to the association ”Hjältarnas Hus”, taking the role of operational manager. There will be a total of 15 rooms at “Hjältarnas Hus” with an estimated construction completion date in February 2017.

Contact person: Anna-Carin Dahlberg, head of White Arkitekter in Umeå, +46 (0)90-704167

High resolution press images: http://www.white.se/press-images/