Friluftssykehuset Outdoor Care Retreat
Consolatory shelter for long-term patients


Architecture, Interior Architecture, Landscape Architecture


In the peaceful ambiance of the forests, only a short walking distance from two of Norway's largest hospitals, Snøhetta has designed two secluded wooden shelters aspiring to make hospitalization easier for patients and their families. Designed for the Friluftssykehuset Foundation, the Outdoor Care Retreats offer visitors a physical and psychological respite from stringent treatment regimens and the isolation that often follows long-term hospitalization.

The cabins are donated to the hospitals as a gift by the Friluftssykehuset Foundation. The vision is to build more Outdoor Care Retreats near hospitals in Norway and abroad.

Technical details

Oslo and Kristiansand, Norway

Stiftelsen Friluftssykehuset


Kvadrat, Kebony and Lindal Gruppen

35 m2
Project funding

Sparebankstiftelsen DNB, Gjensidigstiftelsen, Bergesenstiftelsen and the Children's Foundation OUH and the Norwegian Parliament

Providors of Sponsored Building Material

Kvadrat, Kebony and Lindal Gruppen

The therapeutic qualities of nature

In the deciduous woodland by Sørlandet Hospital Kristiansand in the South of Norway, between oak trees and birch, overlooking a nearby pond, the Outdoor Care Retreat is located. Its sister building is situated only a hundred meters from the entrance of Norway's largest hospital, Oslo University Hospital, Rikshospitalet, leaning towards the lush forest and the trickling Sognsvann creek.

Initially developed in collaboration with the Department of Psychosomatics and CL-Child Psychiatry at Oslo University Hospital, the Outdoor Care Retreat provides a peaceful space where visitors can benefit from the therapeutic qualities of nature.

Referencing wooden tree cabins

The subdued 35 m2 spaces stand in stark contrast to the monumental hospital buildings that they are affiliated with. Referencing the playful construction of wooden tree cabins typically made by children, the luminous cabins are formed like skewed blocks of wood that extend into the landscape through asymmetrical branches. 

The massive wood of the main structure of the cabin will turn gray over time, blending naturally into the surroundings.

Open to all

The space can be used for treatment and contemplation, and for spending time with relatives and friends away from the hospital corridors. The cabins are open to every patient connected to the hospitals regardless of disease group, and reservations are managed through a booking system.

The cabins are accessible for wheelchair users and the angled entrance of black zinc is large enough to make room even for hospital beds.

Nature provides spontaneous joy and helps patients relax. Being in natural surroundings brings them a renewed calm that they can bring back with them into the hospital. In this sense, the Outdoor Care Retreat helps motivate patients to get through treatment and contribute to better disease management. 

Maren Østvold Lindheim Child Psychologist at the Oslo University Hospital and one of the initiators of the project.

Echoing the natural materiality

The cabin consists of a main room, a smaller room for conversation and treatment, and a bathroom. The interior is entirely clad in oak, echoing the natural materiality of the woodlands outside. Inside the space, colorful, sculpted pillows can be moved around freely, allowing children to build huts or lie down to gaze at the canopies through the circular window of the main room's ceiling.

The cabin's large glass windows can be fully opened, inviting nature into the space. In this way, visitors can peek into the woods, smell the damp forest floor, and listen to trickling water while inside the cabin.

Although the cabin is integrated into the hospital campus, its secluded location and natural aesthetics allow it to be perceived as a place of its own. It is a place of muted magic, a place out of the ordinary that provides generous and much-needed breathing space for visitors of all ages. 

The cabins are adapted to the specific location in a way that requires minimal intervention in nature.

Photos: Ivar Kvaal