Warm and effective counselling

Nestling among Odense University Hospital’s high buildings and surrounded by mature trees is a ‘Livsrum’ counselling centre, a welcoming place built on a human scale using warm and friendly materials.

Troldtekt, Livsrum
Photo: Helene Høyer Mikkelsen, architect

The Danish Cancer Society, together with the philanthropic association Realdania, has established a number of cancer counselling centres, or ‘Livsrum life rooms’ as they are called, around Denmark. Here, cancer patients and their relatives can come in for a chat or advice without necessarily having to make a prior appointment. There are no doctors’ coats nor reception desks, instead just lovely rooms, inviting furniture and freshly made coffee.

From the beginning, Livsrum in Odense has been a building which lives up to its objectives of being attractive, lively and very functional. The building interacts with its surroundings and appeals with its dynamic shapes and human scale proportions.

The core of the building is a large communal space – Livsrum – with several adjoining rooms. This area connects easily with the other rooms and creates coherence, allowing people to choose to be on their own or in the company of others. This delicate balance is created by the deliberate use of the building’s materials to create a sense of continuity while differentiating the rooms through their ceiling heights. For example, in the middle is a high ceilinged room with large window sections, while recessed niches are more intimate with normal ceiling heights and built-in furniture.

In the high Livsrum, white Troldtekt ceilings covered with white-pigmented lamellae emphasise the atmosphere while natural coloured Troldtekt panels with larch lamellae harmonise with the wood cladding in the lower height adjoining rooms.

The Troldtekt ceiling absorbs sound and ensures good acoustics, thereby maximising the friendly and intimate feel and overriding architectural composition of the building. Seen from outside, three horizontal bands of concrete, wood and metal connect the building beautifully and naturally with the landscape and initiate a welcoming and calming dialogue with visitors. The textured surfaces and the building’s proportions create a sense of peace while the flowing sequence of rooms reflects the cycle of life.

Architect Mette Wienberg says, ‘Architecture is experienced with all the senses. While the emphasis is often visual it is important for us that the architecture’s sound, smell and feel are also an integral part of the whole. Achieving the right acoustic balance has therefore been an important part of this project. The Troldtekt ceilings and the building’s staggered walls coupled and its wood clad surfaces and living plants have together created an excellent sound environment.’