Hospital Nova: a hospital for the future that thinks outside the box
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Hospital Nova: a hospital for the future that thinks outside the box

JKMM Architects | Teemu Kurkela

Hospital Nova: a hospital for the future that thinks outside the box
By Editorial Staff -

“We need a hospital for the future that’s completely innovative in both its concept and structure.”

This was how the client explained their vision when they contacted Teemu Kurkela and his studio, JKMM. The architect, a professor at the University of Aalto, Helsinki, since 2010, led the entire project, making Hospital Nova a case study for the development of new theoretical models.

Founding partner of JKMM and chief architect of the Nova Hospital, Kurkela summarizes the project: “We shared the vision with the hospital of creating a hospital of the future for Finland. As outsiders in hospital design circles, we found it exciting to develop new conceptual, functional, and technical innovations. At the same time, we wanted architecture in which the patient comes first. Making the natural beauty of Finland the main design theme helped to create welcoming spaces on a human level and a healing hospital environment.”

The old Jyväskylä hospital in central Finland needed to be completely rethought. The applied research involved in the Hospital Nova project was the most effective way to start thinking outside the box and to create a design able to inspire Finland’s entire hospital sector.

The goal was to create a new generation hospital, innovatively rethinking the building from the inside out. Firstly, the single building model was abandoned, with the facility divided into four separate building types: the Hot Hospital (surgery and specialist care), the Hotel (wards), the Health Care Shopping Mall (outpatient care), and the Factory (supporting functions). The underlying idea was to think of the hospital as a small city that needs logical and clear organization.

Project architect Juho Pietarila says: “Our priority was to design a hospital building which, despite its enormous size, patients could easily use and orient themselves. When entering the building, it’s not immediately obvious that you’re entering a hospital. Because of this, Hospital Nova really questions preconceived notions about hospital design and the way hospitals should look and feel.”

In the past, hospitals were often built as towers to maximize the number of beds in which patients could be accommodated for long periods. The trend today, however, is to reduce hospitalization times to a few days. It’s therefore no longer necessary to have such a large number of beds. For this reason, the model proposed for Hospital Nova is more similar to a shopping center or airport, in which all the hospital’s functions are organized along a single public atrium. The Hot Hospital area reflects this concept. The word hot here means that, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the hospital’s most urgent functions take place in this area (emergency, diagnostics, intensive care, and surgery). But the area itself only occupies 25 percent of the hospital.

A new model for outpatient clinics was also developed. These were designed as a health care shopping mall, in which all 360 consultation rooms are arranged along the main atrium. The consultation rooms are standardized and shared by different medical specialties. Communication between medical staff is greatly improved as doctors and nurses meet and work together in the Knowledge Center, a large shared workspace behind the consultation room area.

One of the main goals of Hospital Nova is to put the patient first. The Nova Hospital integrates primary and specialist healthcare into the same building. General practitioners and nurses work within the same facility. The main interior space – the heart of the hospital – has an inviting feel, with a three-story atrium that looks more like a shopping mall than a traditional hospital. The layout of the building is clear. Visitors can easily find their way around it thanks to lines of sight that run through the different departments. There’s also an open playground for children with wooden equipment. Most of the waiting areas are designed to have views and natural lighting.

Laura Hämäläinen, interior designer with JKMM, says: “The positive and healing effects of nature are well known. For this reason, we looked to the national parks near Jyväskylä for our interior design concept. The nearby pine forests, hills, and lakes are, of course, well known to those who use the hospital, and references to these inside the building create a meaningful connection, especially for nature-loving Finns.”

To put the hospital on an even more human level, nature was chosen as the central theme of its interiors. Colors, lights, and artworks all tell stories about nature. A large variety of artwork has been commissioned for Hospital Nova with the aim of enhancing the patient experience.

Location Jyväskylä, Central Finland
Size 116 000 gross m2
Status 2012 – completion 2020
Client KSSHP, Central Finland Hospital District


Teemu Kurkela lead architect, architect SAFA
Asmo Jaaksi architect SAFA
Samuli Miettinen architect SAFA
Juha Mäki-Jyllilä architect SAFA
Riikka Heldan assisting lead architect, architect SAFA
Juho Pietarila project architect
Aaro Martikainen architect SAFA
Alli Bur architect
Anna Melander architect SAFA
Christopher Delany architect SAFA
Gerrie Bekhuis architect
Jaakko Saraste architect student
Jussi Janssonarchitect
Kimmo Kirvesmäki architect
Marko Pulli architect
Marko Salmela architect SAFA
Olli Vaskelainen architect
Päivi Aaltio architect SAFA
Ville Hassi architect SAFA
Pekka Tynkkynen architect
Rainer Virtanen architect
Laura Hämäläinen interior architect
Raisa Hämäläinen interior architect
Veera Luostarinen interior architect SIO
Timo Ryttäri interior architect
Kaisa Takala interior architect SIO
Jorma Valkama interior architect SIO
Peter Vuorenrinne designer

JKMM TEAM PARTNERED WITH THE FOLLOWING PARTiES                                          

Design partner EGM architects
Project management constructor SRV
Construction consultant Ramboll CM Oy
Structural design Ramboll Finland Oy
Electrical engineering Ramboll Finland Oy and Easytec Oy
Geotechnical engineering Ramboll Finland Oy
Audiovisual design Ramboll Finland Oy


Tiina Pyykkinen ‘Notes of Lights’ artwork on the main facade
Pasi Karjula the wall of the auditorium
Petri Vainio ’Kukkajärvi’ (sea of flowers) light art installation on restaurant ceiling
Nora Tapper Silent yard
Jussi Heikkilä  second entrance
Jaana Kautto artwork for the operation theaters and radiotherapy department
Kati Immonen hospital wards
Naoji Ishiyama hospital wards
Aino-Kaarina Pajari hospital wards
Johanna Pisto hospital wards
Anna Ruth hospital wards
Yuichiro Sato hospital wards
Johanna Mäkitalo hospital wards


Photography Hannu Rytky, Pauliina Salonen, Studio Juha Sarkkinen, KUVIO M Sommerschield. Tuomas Uuusheimo

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