Architecture obviously can't cure patients—but it's naive to think that good design can't at least aid in well-being. And well-being, surely, is the start point in restoring anyone's health. That simple insight helped NORD Architects win the competition to design a new cancer center in Copenhagen.
NORD's design is meant to counteract the faceless institutionality that plagues hospital design. Instead of huge, monolithic building, their project suggests something more like a village or a neighborhood. The building is low-slung, and it's roof-line suggests a cluster of small homes; in fact, the various wings themselves are organized to feel like residences, joined via courtyards, themed gardens, and public spaces:
Others have tried similar approaches, and in fact, NORD's design was based on Maggie's Centers, a British chain of cancer treatment centers which aims to counsel cancer patients in as homey an environment as possible.
A groundbreaking doesn't appear to have been set yet, but the city of Copenhagen has laid out a budget of $8 million for the project.
For more examples of architecture designed for the social good, check out this retirement home, designed to help seniors explore its grounds, and this housing complex, designed to integrate battered women into daily life.