Södra Älvsborg – Psychiatric Clinic

Södra Älvsborg – Psychiatric Clinic

Södra Älvsborg Hospital (SÄS) Psychiatric Clinic is a healing environment that protects patient integrity and a calming workplace for staff. By adopting a humanist design approach that encourages interaction with place and nature, the clinic provides a safe haven for patient recovery, relatives and staff alike.

Promoting independence

The ambition was to create a clinic with the dignity of a public building, yet without the feeling of a closed institutional facility. SÄS Psychiatric Clinic comprises of inpatient wards, an emergency ward for an 80-bed Adult Psychiatry Unit (VUP), a 10-bed Children and Adolescent Psychiatry Unit (BUP), as well as a rehabilitation unit and administrative offices. Through close dialogue with users, the clinic was designed to promote patient independence, freedom and self-responsibility. In addition, a calm and safe environment for staff, relatives and visitors could be established.

Client: Västfastigheter
Location: Borås, Sweden
Status: Completed 2021
Area: 90 Beds
Awards: Best International Healthcare Development 2021 – Better Healthcare Awards, 2013 WAN Award Best Future Healthcare Building
Photo: Felix Gerlach

By adopting a humanist design approach that encourages interaction with place and nature, the clinic provides a safe haven for patient recovery, relatives and staff alike.

The Star and the Square

The clinic comprises of two existing buildings, and two new buildings; the Star and the Square. The square forms a new entrance to the hospital while connecting the other buildings through a glazed corridor. The dynamic form of the Star building followed the irregular, sloping terrain and the existing greenery on site. Diverse views towards nature are offered from within. The feeling of a large-scale institution is wiped away; bleak, monotonous corridors are non-existent.

The proposal is well-framed with a presentation that shows knowledge and empathy in the building's future operations… Simply spectacular.
2013 Wan Awards International Jury

Smart materials and robust details guarantee longevity. There is a consistent use of wood for interior wall cladding, frames and selected floors. Colour is used strategically to enable wayfinding; the palette is inspired by nature’s milder hues.

The entire building is orientated to take advantage of the positive healing properties of daylight. The courtyards are directed toward the east, where the morning sun filters through the silent and calm pine forest. All rooms offer views outwards into the surrounding parklands and forest, creating a sense of freedom. The landscape can be experienced in different ways. Courtyards offer sensory experiences, invite activity and encourage social interaction. The transparent screens of the courtyards prevent escape, but also alleviate feelings of imprisonment. A winding path leads to the garden adjoining the rehabilitation unit, allowing for more extensive walking and activity.

Healing architecture

Over the last decade, the healing properties of architecture has been a growing area of research in Sweden. There is a strong body of evidence to suggest a strong connection between the physical care environment and patient well-being and recovery. In psychiatry, where patients often undergo long-term admission, this issue is of great importance. Stefan Lundin is an architect at White Arkitekter. While researching his PhD at Chalmers University of Technology’s Centre for Healthcare, he observed a link between patient recovery and the built environment. At Sahlgrenska University Hospital Göteborg, the extent of coercive measures against patients, such as compulsory medication and restrictive belts, reduced significantly after moving to new purpose-built premises that were guided by evidence-based design principles.

Enjoying solitude or the company of others

Patients are free to enjoy solitude or the company of others; from sitting in the small living room to socialising in the ward’s large dining room. All patient rooms are single rooms with private balconies, giving direct access to the outdoors. Patients, staff and relatives are equally involved in care and can work together in the large day rooms available within the wards. Staff are also offered light and safe working spaces with a dedicated area for breaks during intensive shifts. A crucial design consideration was safety. Security devices were made as discreet as possible so as not to unnecessarily remind people of their condition, as well as to avoid triggering negative behaviours.

Contact & Team

Cristiana Caira

Cristiana Caira

Key account manager

+46 703 15 86 77

Carl Molin

Magnus Brunner

Björn Bondesson

Stefan Lundin

Karin Jakobsson

Katharina Thullner

Ylva Andersson

Jens Axelsson

Emma Persson

Rikard Sjöberg

Susanna von Eyben

Elisabeth Sandberg

Johanna Augustsson

Emma Deines

Olof Nordenson

Therésè Elmquist

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