Karolinska University Hospital Solna

Karolinska University Hospital Solna

Karolinska University Hospital in Solna is one of Sweden’s largest ever healthcare projects; a world-class biomedical facility, designed to put Stockholm at the forefront of healthcare innovation. Over a decade of evidence-based research into the positive impact of daylight, natural materials, views out and use of space on patient wellbeing, have culminated in a building that wholly focuses on recovery, while consuming half the energy of equivalent hospitals.

A new kind of urban hospital

Hospitals are usually set apart from the city, which creates a psychological as well as physical barrier; these critically important public buildings should embody an inviting civic presence. At twelve storeys, New Karolinska Solna project introduces a new scale in comparison to the current hospital campus and inner city Stockholm; a beacon visible from afar. A new subway station will be embedded into the entrance hall, integrating the hospital into the city fabric and Stockholm’s transport infrastructure.

Client: SHP (Swedish Hospital Partners)
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Status: Completed 2018
Area: 330,000 sqm (9-12 storeys)
Rooms: 630 inpatients and 100 day patients
Cost: 16.2 bn SEK
Environmental certifications: LEED Gold, Miljöbyggnad Guld
Awards: Future Healthcare Design Prize, European Healthcare Design Awards 2017
Visuals: Fredrik Sweger, Anders Bobert, White Tengbom Team

Civic architecture that makes a positive contribution to the neighbourhood.
Based on a highly patient-centred approach, drawing on extensive research in healthcare innovation and the design of healing environments, the New Karolinska Solna project offers patient facilities and public spaces flooded by natural light that prioritise wellbeing.
Hans Forsmark, Architect

One of the principal aims of the New Karolinska Solna project is to enhance the interaction between care, research and education; these have been reflected in the architecture. The compact structure ensures proximity between different functions, encouraging interdisciplinary working methodologies. The lower floors contain treatment rooms, X-ray and hospital services, while wards for 715 patients are situated on the upper levels.

Taking evidence-based design theories as a starting point, as much daylight as possible has been introduced into the building, incorporating vistas onto the wider surroundings. Each ward contains 28 private patient rooms, flooded by natural light and offering sweeping views across the city. Support functions, such as administrative offices, staff and conference rooms, are also oriented to receive maximum amounts of daylight. On the roof, there is a helipad with space for two air ambulances. The public circulation space and elevator access is housed in a glazed link between buildings, framing city and parkland views.

Halving environmental impact

The first phase of the New Karolinska Solna project has been certified to a LEED Gold and Miljöbyggnad Guld standard. 99.7% of energy comes from renewable sources with low CO2 emissions, delivered through a combination of district heating, remote cooling, a separate geothermal plant, plus recycled energy from ventilation air.

Patient First

‘Patient First’ was the guiding ethos for the whole project; everything was designed and planned based on what was best for patients. The generous 20 sqm ensuite private rooms are designed for single occupancy, enhancing patient integrity, confidence and security. The rooms accommodate interdisciplinary examination and treatment medical teams; instead of being wheeled around the hospital to different diagnostic departments, the clinicians come to the patient. This allows undisturbed consultation with medical staff to increase patient participation and wellbeing.

Rooms are designed to be welcoming, furnished with outwards views and filled with natural light; an important aspect for the wellbeing of patients and staff alike.

The move to single rooms affects the structure of the whole hospital. It becomes almost political: driving healthcare towards better, safer outcomes but also creating the demand for new ways of working and operation.
Charlotte Ruben, Project Architect

Patients have their own en-suite bathroom and an additional bed to accommodate an overnight guest, the support and close proximity of friends and family is crucial to recovery. The light, airy rooms are designed so medical functions do not dominate. Vital technical access points are integrated into the bed-head panel and there is storage space in the support zones within the ward for mobile medical equipment. Strategic sink locations, private hygiene rooms and smart logistical solutions help prevent the spread of infections.

Productive workplaces

Specialist clinicians, who have traditionally worked in isolated clinics, are now part of thematic diagnostic care and treatment units, each staffed by a full range of specialist healthcare professionals. Support functions and equipment are located inside the ward, close to small, decentralised nursing stations. Supplies can be quickly and efficiently moved around the building to and from the bedside using pneumatic tubes and remote-controlled robot carts, which have their own dedicated elevators. These efficiencies mean medical staff are able to spend the maximum time with patients.

There are clear divisions between patient and public areas, professional and service zones, minimising germ transmission.

Creative Healing

Colour and material palettes work thematically with the signage, lighting and public artworks to assist wayfinding. Natural, tactile materials have been applied throughout; the natural stone of the entrance plaza, light blonde ash wood for wall panelling and furniture, durable granite floors and white concrete elements lift and lighten the atmosphere. Nyréns Arkitektkontor developed the furniture concept that, together with the architecture and art, interact to create a balanced and conscientious whole.

The New Karolinska Solna project has received one of the most significant public art investments in Swedish history; a number of site-specific artworks have been commissioned along with paintings, sculpture and mixed-media acquisitions. Art plays an important therapeutic role for patients, and provides attractive environments for staff and visitors, further strengthening the idea of a hospital as a civic building that people can take pride in.

Open and welcoming interiors: materials, colours and art are used as tools to add variety to a human and caring environment

Sweden's largest BIM project

The project is Sweden’s largest BIM project to date. Strict specifications were set for the BIM project design to streamline and coordinate the immense volume of data between consultants, generated by a project of this scale and complexity; from visualisation to detailed design and information management. Practical completion is expected in 2018.

The new Karolinska Solna is based on White’s winning competition proposal from 2006, which was further developed by Tengbom and completed through the project company White Tengbom Team 2010–2018.

Contact & Team

Charlotte Ruben

Charlotte Ruben


+46 703 24 20 05

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