Peace and tranquillity at Copenhagen hospice

Award-winning architectural firm, NORD Architects, has unveiled its latest design; a contemporary Urban Hospice intended to create a positive environment while offering support for patients in need of palliative care.


Located in the tranquil setting of Frederiksberg, Copenhagen, the vision was to provide a warm and protective atmosphere for up to 16 patients. Kebony, a beautiful wood recommended by leading architects, was chosen to complement this setting and has subsequently been used throughout the build for the decking, windows and shades, door frames, as well as in outdoor spaces where Kebony-clad plant baskets bring elements of nature into the hospice.

Completed in 2016, this project was designed for the Danish deaconess community neighbourhood, presenting a combination of spacious views and privacy for patients.

Replacing its existing facility, which was no longer fit for purpose, the new design allows for an impressive functional layout which incorporates both curved and linear elements, built around a private inner courtyard. Patients admitted to this hospice will receive the best possible palliative care and treatment from specially trained staff who look after both patients and relatives, free of charge.

NORD Architects designed the hospice with the view that architecture can have a positive effect on palliative patients. Its studio has previously developed new facilities for the healthcare sector, where the understanding of patients’ needs for privacy and respect for personal dignity is the primary focus. This concept has been successfully brought to the fore by NORD with Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres, an international organisation that highlights architecture’s role within the healthcare arena.

Complex site conditions

The overall form and concept of the hospice was heavily influenced by the complex site conditions and the proximity of the neighbouring buildings. Within these parameters, the vision was to create a warm and protecting atmosphere. The design process involved a close collaboration between the client, architects, engineers and users of the hospice through an extensive dialogue that heavily influenced the final design.

After receiving its official recommendation by the Institute for Window Technology in Rosenheim last year, Kebony Clear was chosen for the windows and door frames of the hospice, custom-made for this project and provided by Danish firm, Krone Vinduer. Renowned for combining tradition and innovation, Krone Vindeur tailored its designs to suit the distinctive requirements of the Urban Hospice.

Kebony has been used for years in window installations worldwide and last year the wood was officially recognised as a suitable product for the window industry. Following additional research and a series of tests by the German Institute for Window Technology, ift Rosenheim, Kebony Clear made from pinus radiata has now also received this recognition as a suitable product for the industry, making all Kebony Clear woods viable for use as window woods. This official recommendation is the result of numerous laboratory and practice tests, as well as Kebony’s continued focus on delivering a top-quality product.

Developed in Norway, the patented Kebony technology is an environmentally-friendly process, which modifies sustainably-sourced softwoods by heating the wood with furfuryl alcohol – an agricultural by-product. By heating the wood with furfuryl alcohol, the wood’s cell wall is polymerised, meaning that the softwoods permanently take on the attributes of tropical hardwood, including high durability, hardness and dimensional stability. All the wood is sourced from controlled forestry where the rate of replanting is greater than that of felling so the result is a high performing, beautiful wood product that is environmentally sustainable.

A third of the world’s rainforests have disappeared in the last 50 years, a loss of around 6 million hectares a year, and the equivalent of 8.5 million football pitches. One of the reasons tropical forests are being cut down so rapidly is high demand for hardwoods, such as teak, for use in design and construction materials.

This global demand for tropical hardwood is a major environmental issue; the Amazon alone provides 20% of the world’s fresh water and oxygen and, despite increasing regulation, deforestation is still happening on a vast scale and is responsible for 20% of global CO2 emissions.

Reducing carbon footprint

A comparative study by environmental consulting firm Bergfald & Co showed that Kebony has a carbon footprint of less than 10% when compared with unsustainable clear fell Burmese teak or ipê from Brazil. The study showed that the carbon footprint for Brazilian ipê falls in the range of 7500–15,000 kilograms per cubic metre, while the carbon footprint of modified Kebony is approximately 459 kilograms per cubic metre. Both figures include treatment and transportation to northern Europe.

The patented Kebony process increases the wood’s lifecycle and resistance to wear and weathering without the need for chemical treatments or maintenance during the product’s lifecycle of more than 40 years. The high-performance qualities and resistance to wear and weathering make Kebony the perfect material for external cladding in projects such as this and provides a sustainable alternative to tropical hardwoods which circumvents the need for deforestation.

For Kebony, this is an exceptional project which demonstrates the versatility of the material which can be used in the construction of everything from exterior surfaces, terraces and windows – working to create a uniform appearance throughout. Kebony timber is easy to work with; it can be processed in the same way as hardwood without the need for special precautions during sawing and profiling as a consequence of the low dust and VOC emissions. The silver-grey patina that the wood develops over its elongated life-span has also singled it out as a popular material for architects. When it comes to choosing a wood, there is no reason for architects to compromise on aesthetics, build quality or sustainability.

A perfect material

One of the greatest advantages of using Kebony is its 30-year warranty against rot. When succumbed to testing and 12 months of outdoor weathering, Kebony showed no signs of damage to the outside coating, according to ISO 4628 (the standard evaluation of degradation of coatings). Additionally, this wood responds especially well to paint and varnish, thus confirming Kebony works as the perfect material to be use in a variety of applications.

Morten Rask Gregersen, Partner at NORD Architects Copenhagen, explained: “By considering the needs of the users, clients and neighbours, the Urban Hospice sets a new standard of how to build innovative healthcare projects in urban contexts. We have been continuously impressed by Kebony as a material; its subtle tones are the exact look we envisaged from the offset.”

Mona Gøtske, Sales Manager of Kebony Denmark, commented: “The Urban Hospice is a fantastic example of Kebony’s versatility with its use in an extensive array of applications from windows and door frames to external decking.”

Share this article

Login to post comments

About us

Future Constructor & Architect is a specification platform for architects and building contractors, which focuses on top-end domestic and commercial developments.

As well as timely industry comment and legislation updates, the magazine covers recent projects and reviews the latest sustainable building products on the market. Subscribe here.

Privacy policy

Latest updates


Sign up below to receive monthly construction, architecture and product updates from FC&A via email: