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With a Deadline In Place, Norway Warms Up to Universal Design

A hospital in Trondheim is a laboratory of sorts for the state’s ambitious plan to embrace a different way of creating buildings, transit, and even websites by 2025.
As a result of the observation-based research and patient input that went into building St. Olav’s, the hospital is better able to provide what patients consider their basic priorities: privacy, comfort, and security.
As a result of the observation-based research and patient input that went into building St. Olav’s, the hospital is better able to provide what patients consider their basic priorities: privacy, comfort, and security.Røe Kommunikasjon, Stein Risstad Larssen

At St. Olav’s Hospital in Trondheim, Norway, natural light streams through floor to ceiling windows in the lobby; patients are given private rooms with close access to nurse stations; special attention is given to artwork and color schemes; and a path in the lush garden gives patients in wheelchairs the chance to practice on varied terrain.

Welcome to one of Norway’s proudest laboratories of inclusive design—a place designed, from the very beginning, not just to accommodate but to welcome and encourage the broadest spectrum of people and abilities. The focus is on color, materials, and a connection to nature, air quality, and light. “It looks like a nice urban environment,” said Onny Eikhaug, Program Leader at the Norway Design Council. “It doesn’t look like a hospital, it doesn’t smell like a hospital.”