Bjarke Ingels Group has unveiled the design of a new Neuroscience Center building that will bring together psychiatry and neuroscience under one roof, combining research and treatment of physical and mental brain diseases, spinal cord, and nervous systems. The 20,000 sqm facility, which will be a part of the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, translates the "gyrification of the human brain" in a spatially-efficient structure that creates synergies between the different disciplines within the hospital.
Since it's inauguration in 2009, the Danish Neuroscience Center (DNC) has become a world-class research and treatment facility for understanding and treating the brain. The new building is set to open in 2026 and will be structurally connected to the existing campus of the hospital, further promoting the hospital’s approach of combining healthcare, education, and scientific research.
BIG’s six-storey neuroscience center proposal serves as an analogy between architecture and the brain. The structure compliments the efficiency of a double loaded corridor building with the openness of a classic atrium typology. The floor plan is folded around an atrium, mimicking the folds of the cerebral cortex. The design allows each floor to reach the necessary square footage within a limited spatial area, and creates a series of clusters that form intimate workspaces, courtyards, and views between each floor within the hospital.
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Visitors and patients can access the building through a spacious reception area, and walk into an open atrium at the core of the building. The atrium features an interactive public exhibition and presentation area. Visitors wil also have access to a café and a public green courtyard at ground level. Although each department will have its own distinct program and functions, they will be homogenous spatially. To ensure this lack of fragmentation, BIG organized the programs based on similar functions, encouraging crossbreeding between the different research groups.
The building must - like the brain - function as a space for knowledge sharing that creates new connections, contexts and common understandings. We want to disrupt the way of thinking of the physical and mental brain diseases as isolated quantities. The location between AUH and AUH Psychiatry and BIG’s design of the building promotes and cements this approach. There will be a connection to the outside world through public access to experience centers, exhibitions, and lectures in our incredible brain house. -- Jens Christian Hedemann Sørensen, Professor of neurosurgery and chairman of DNC.
The structure will be built with natural materials such as wood and brick, similar to other buildings on campus. The red concrete of the exterior will blend with the existing brick buildings, and bring warmth to the spaces, contrasting the clinical and sanitized white environment of hospitals. All office areas will be naturally ventilated, and every floor will have access to an outdoor terrace. To avoid glare or direct sunlight in workplaces, a stretched metal window mesh is installed across the building, filtering the light to provide each office, laboratory, or examination room with pleasant natural illumination. The project aims for a DGBN Gold sustainability certification for hospitals in Denmark.