by Jerry ElengicalJul 01, 2022
When challenged with a limited area for the design of the new Danish Neuroscience Center in Aarhus, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) tackled the situation by taking cues from a key natural function of the brain. Architecture company's founder Bjarke Ingels sought to find out how he could extract more connections and space within the limited confines by interpreting brain gyrification – a process of forming the characteristic folds of the cerebral cortex. The 19,000 sqm complex, housing neuroscience and psychiatry facilities, is to be constructed within the existing Aarhus University Hospital campus in Denmark.
BIG developed the defining folds of the built form by combining a double loaded corridor building with a classic atrium typology. The resultant form reveals a folded plate around an atrium which allows each floor of the six storey building achieve the necessary space in the limited area. BIG refers to this typology as ‘cortrium’ – a fluid form that cohesively organises the various departments, ranging from neurology to nuclear medicine, headache clinic and psychiatry, within the building. The cortium is linked to a set of three existing buildings with a linear corridor characteristics. The points where cortium’s cerebral folds merge with the corridor buildings, BIG describes this union as kissing moments. These moments architecturally translate into spaces that capture views of the overlooking enclosed atrium. The overall fluid composition nurtures a number of connections that foster interaction between the floors.
"Our design for the new Danish Neuroscience Center in Aarhus replicates the most essential feature of the brain to create more connections and space within limited confines. The building folds bring light, lots of new pathways and green pockets into the hospital making nature and biodiversity part of the hospital’s research and the healing journey of its patients," says Ingels.
Upon entering the facility one would arrive at the grand reception area. The space opens into a large atrium at the centre of the building, enclosing an exhibition and presentation area to host activities and display findings of the hospital’s research wing. The space also features a café and a green courtyard, in addition to vertical routes leading to the clinics upstairs.
The arrangement of different departments on the upper floors is such that unlike conventional hospitals, one would see a certain crossbreeding to fuel inspiration. Every floor has access to an outdoor terrace. "Historically, hospitals have divided knowledge and expertise into different specialties and departments. DNC seeks to gather all current and future knowledge under one roof to create synergies between different expertise areas and a more holistic approach to understanding and curing brain disorders,” says David Zahle, Partner at BIG.
The building displays a red concrete exterior that resonates with the brick architecture of the context. Contrasting with the dull environment of regular healthcare facilities, the architecture has been designed to evoke a certain warmth and character. The building is expected to be completed by 2026.
Previous projects by Bjarke Ingels Group published on STIR include an extension of a hillside forming a fashion village in Portugal; a corkscrew-like observation helix in Denmark’s Wadden Sea National Park; the concept of a 3D-printed habitat for Mars; and a looped courtscraper for OPPO’s R&D headquarters in China. On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2022, STIR also spoke with BIG's CEO, Sheela Maini Søgaard, to peek into her journey in shaping one of the world’s most powerful architectural firms. .