Sometimes the scene of complex situations, hospitals and healthcare centres are often perceived as cold places. Taking the step to enter a specialised cancer treatment centre requires going through the process of acceptance.

In the Copenhagen Healthcare Centre for Cancer Patients, the Danish studio of Nord Architects has managed to turn this difficulty around. They have designed a building not only for recovery and self-knowledge, but also for fun. For the design team, the key to achieving this was to think in terms of architecture on a human scale in order to create an environment with a homely atmosphere.

Architecture can serve as another tool in healing and have a positive influence on people’s lives.



Upon entering the building, there are no huge reception or administration areas. Instead, when entering the cosy entrance lounge, patients are greeted by a group of volunteers. These volunteers, former cancer patients, are in charge of easing the initial process of being admitted to such a centre.

All the spaces in the centre are linked under the same philosophy. The objective was defined from the beginning: the centre was to be as cosy as a home. Because of this premise, the centre has spaces that are unusual in hospital architecture: a courtyard for self-contemplation, spaces for physical exercise, and even a communal kitchen where cooking classes are held. These spaces improve patients’ health because of welcoming, luminous architecture with a human scale.


Espacios comunes del centro de salud

Espacios comunes del centro de salud. Nord Architects. Fotografía © Adam Mørk



The Danish architectural team wanted to give the centre an iconic image. They decided to design a building to raise awareness about cancer from the presence and support of patients.


The symbol created by these hospital architects is simple: there is nothing that can better represent a home than a house. In this case, the project created the image of a group of typical Danish houses joined together. The continuous, folded ceiling, reminiscent of traditional Japanese origami shapes, also gives the centre a special touch. It is a building that has become a showpiece without losing the intimate, human scale that characterises it.


The construction materials are also unusual compared to most hospital facilities. Wood, concrete, and aluminium provide warm tones and are an invitation to enter the centre.


The Copenhagen Healthcare Centre for Cancer Patients is undoubtedly a paradigm shift in the way patients are cared for. The shift from passive to active recovery has been shown to promote faster recovery, an advantage for all parties involved. This healthcare centre has set an example not only for its architecture but also for its approach to cancer treatment. The model has been replicated in Denmark and other countries around the world.


Patio central del complejo

Patio central del complejo. Nord Architects. Fotografía © Adam Mørk