A woodland hut for a hospital bed

These doctors in Norway are harnessing the power of nature

Plants are good for you — that’s not news. What is groundbreaking, though, is the use of plants in healthcare. It's an approach that these hospitals in Norway have adopted with truly stunning results. They've created little rehabilitation and socialising cabins in the woods, for patients and families to enjoy.

A woodland hut for a hospital bed Thejoyofplants.co.ukCopyright: snohetta.com

Healing nature

Within walking distance of Norway’s two largest hospitals, in the surrounding woodland, you'll find two unique wooden cabins. These forest huts have been specially designed to improve hospital stays for patients and their families. The Outdoor Care Retreats, as they're known, offer patients a break from the monotony and anxiety of their often long-term treatment. Plus, they help the healing process along, because spending time in nature strengthens your immune system, lowers your cortisol levels and reduces overall pain.

Inspired by treehouses

The unusual little buildings have a floor area of just 35m2 that encompasses a main living space, a smaller consultation room, and a bathroom. It's a strong contrast with traditional hospitals' buildings in terms of size, material and architecture. Inspired by the playful construction of treehouses, the architects built these retreats to appear almost crooked. They're clad in solid wood, which will weather and turn silver-grey over time, merging with the surrounding forest. The insides are clad in oak, blending into the forest as well. Staying here, patients really will become one with nature.

A breathing space

The cabins might officially be part of the hospital campus, but the remote location and natural aesthetic mean they feel very different to a room in a ward. This allows patients and their families to really get away from everything for a while, in a spot surrounded by nature, that offers them much-needed breathing space. Hopefully we'll see more of these kinds of much-needed initiatives in other countries around the world!

Do you know any other great initiatives combining plants and healthcare? Share them with us on social media using #thejoyofplants. We'd love to hear from you!