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White’s assignment to draw Östra Hospital’s new Heathcare Building for acute psychiatry was much needed, having been run for far too long in outmoded premises at Lillhagen. At the same time, there is little scientific knowledge about how a good care environment should be designed. It is quite clear that the buildings’ aesthetics and function play a major role in the recovery process.
Unlike before, we have brought all categories of ward staff closer to the patient and we have also tried to create a more equal conversational environment by designing special chat rooms.

The wards are based upon three pillars:

The Garden

A lush oasis surrounded by buildings. The programme requirement’s “sheltered outdoor area” has been given a freer role even for patients who are admitted for compulsory treatment. No staff escort is needed and some patients even have their own access to the garden. “We believe this is the single most important solution,” says Stefan Lundin.

But how exactly?
In-depth discussions with the organisation and greater understanding were needed to offset the lack of a clear set of requirements.

“We started out with the goal of creating a free and open atmosphere, to avoid any associations with force and power,” says Stefan Lundin, Lead Architect.

The facility has a welcoming entrance with its three-storey entrance hall. Large glass panels and illuminated red-stained birch panels offer character to a room that is seen by everyone – families, staff and patients with clearance.

The heart
The central area of the ward department with living room, kitchen, dining room, activity room and department station grouped around a small glazed conservatory.

“It has some of the ‘corridor-free department’ that was requested, a solution offering the patient an opportunity to move around in ways other than through long, narrow corridors,” says Maria Wetter Öhman.

Residential group

The traditional Swedish glazed veranda has inspired the common social corner in the residential group accommodating 4-5 people. The residential group is visible from the “heart”, but can be separated and used for patients with similar diagnoses.

With regard to the individual care rooms, the idea was to offer multiple spaces. In bed looking straight out of the window. In the adjacent armchair with a blanket over the legs. Or with the legs pulled up in the lanternesque window seat, with the door ajar looking out towards the “Heart”. The design is intended to gradually increase patients’ personal space, from their own room, to the garden, café and public components, in order to finally “break the bubble” out to us, and to a normal life.

One of the hospital’s overall wishes was to break the stigma associated with psychiatric care. We hope and believe that we have managed to contribute to this.

Healthcare Building for psychiatry, Östra Hospital

  • Client: Västfastigheter
  • Project Start/End: 2004-2006
  • Completed: 2009
  • City: Göteborg
  • Photographer/Illustrator: Christer Hallgren


  • Forum's Healthcare Building Award 2007
  • Second place – WAN Healthcare Building of the Year Award


  • Maria Wetter Öhman - ansvarig arkitekt
  • Stefan Lundin - ansvarig arkitekt
  • Krister Nilsson
  • Stig Olsson
  • Ann-Marie Revellé
  • Jonas Häggström
  • Jerry Jansson
  • Anna Graaf
  • Elisabeth Rosenlund
  • Elisabeth Sandberg
  • Roger Olsson

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