Troldtekt, Healing architecture

How can architecture contribute to social work? And can the right layout of a psychiatric hospital minimise the use of physical restraint? In this theme, experts offer their views and answers.

Read about the Danish ‘Social bricks’ pilot study which, based on six cases, presents knowledge about ways in which architecture supports social work.

Get an insight into the new psychiatric hospitals in the Danish towns of Slagelse and Vejle, and read about the architects’ thoughts behind their designs. And see how Denmark’s biggest patient association, the Danish Cancer Society, has built seven cancer counselling centres based on the principles of healing architecture.

Inspiration is also provided from three other projects in Denmark: the psychiatric hospital in Esbjerg, sheltered housing units for the elderly with autism in Hinnerup and a care centre in Fredericia.  

Architecture as a social tool

The foundation ‘Den A. P. Møllerske Støttefond’ supports non-profit goals, while the member-based philanthropic organisation Realdania supports projects in the built environment which enhance quality of life. Together with the Danish Association of Architects, the two Danish organisations have taken the first step towards systematically gathering knowledge about how architecture can support social work.

A pilot study of six selected Danish cases has, among other things, shown that physical surroundings can reduce conflict levels, strengthen users’ pride and sense of ownership – and create more peace of mind in their everyday lives.


A children’s home with a friendly atmosphere

Children at the institution ‘Villaen’ in Kerteminde on Funen wanted a new home they could be proud of. A great and welcoming place that felt safe, and where their friends would want to come visiting.

Using natural materials, pitched roofs and a varied design, the CEBRA architects have therefore created a building that looks much more like a classic terraced house than an institution for particularly vulnerable children.

Troldtekt, Children's home of the future

Innovative architecture is good for mental health

Transparency, the intelligent use of light and easy access to safe courtyards. These are some of the architectural features at the newly constructed psychiatric hospitals in the Danish towns of Vejle and Slagelse.

Arkitema Architects and Karlsson Arkitekter conceived and designed the two projects. The architects at both architectural practices stress the importance of offering psychiatric patients the right balance between peace and quiet, a sense of community and freedom.


It’s like being given a hug as you step inside

Close to the cancer departments at a number of Danish hospitals, Denmark’s biggest patient association, the Danish Cancer Society, has built seven new cancer counselling centres, designed according to the principles of healing architecture.

Head of department Laila Walther from the Danish Cancer Society describes the incredibly positive difference that the new facilities have made for patients, their relatives and volunteers.

Troldtekt, Laila Walther

Psychiatric department

in Esbjerg (DK)

Troldtekt, Psychiatric hospital Esbjerg

Arkitema Architects was responsible for the refurbishment and extension of the psychiatric department in Esbjerg. The interiors are light and airy with Troldtekt ceilings and wood as the dominant materials. Glass walls add transparency, creating peace of mind for patients and staff alike. In the first year, the use of physical restraint fell by 70 per cent.

See photographs and read more


in Hinnerup (DK)

Troldtekt, Seniorhus Hinnerup

The four sheltered housing units and the other facilities have been warmly received by the residents, who all suffer from autism. To make the complex feel both safe and intimate, Wienberg Architects and Frier Architecture worked extensively with the spatial layout, materials and colours. In the communal areas, Troldtekt acoustic panels contribute to the good sound environment, which helps to create a sense of closeness and calm.

See photographs and read more

Othello care centre

in Fredericia (DK)

Troldtekt, Othello Plejecenter

A circular solution inspired by the Globe Theatre in London elegantly reduced noise levels at the Othello care centre. The distinctive building designed by Cubo Arkitekter provides all residents with views of the inner courtyard. In the communal areas, Troldtekt acoustic panels ensure good acoustics, while the uniform ceilings also have a visually unifying effect.

See photographs and read more

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