15 May 2017

New Children’s Hospital in Finland dives deep into Tove Jansson’s philosophy

Tove Jansson’s Moomin stories act as a source of inspiration to the interiors of the New Children’s Hospital opening in Helsinki during the years 2017-2018. The new hospital is replacing the outdated facilities of the current children’s hospitals, focusing on the best child care and sustainable architecture. The design takes into account the needs of the children, their families, and of course the caretakers. Moomin stories were a natural choice to strengthen the main theme of the New Children’s Hospital; the archipelago and nature. Tove Jansson has succeeded in creating a magical and inspiring world even around hard themes.

The lead designer Antti-Matti Siikala together with the SARC Architects and Architect Group Reino Koivula, Inc. are responsible for the design of the New Children’s Hospital. The CEO of SARC Architects, Sarlotta Narjus, developed the nature-themed story and Moomin graphics to support it. She is extremely happy with the team designing the New Children’s Hospital. Sarlotta Narjus said: “Our common goal is to create a timeless piece of art, where together with Tove Jansson’s philosophy we create a healing environment. From the whole team you get the sense that now we are on to something that really matters.”

Architect Anita Kiiveri was selected to the project as a Moomin expert, to whom Jansson’s philosophy and stories are already familiar and meaningful. “Nature, the islands, and the sea are important elements in Tove’s stories, like they are for me as well. It seemed natural to bring these to our plans as a part of the big picture,” says Kiiveri. “We wanted to the hospital to have a deeper story and didn’t want to fill the walls with Moomin characters, instead we wanted the overall themes and storytelling to appeal pleasantly to seriously ill children of different ages, Kiiveri continues.

From underwater to space

According to Narjus and Kiiveri, one of the main goals is to create a combination that exudes the philosophy of the Moomins and not just decorates the spaces beautifully. Inside the color plan, special lighting, illustrations and quotes picked from Tove Jansson’s literature form a narrative whole in different parts of the building. Each floor will be decorated with one nature theme in accordance with the related Moomin story. Anyone familiar with the Moomin stories will have a special experience and understand the story and abstract illustrations on each floor.

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Digiprinted wall cover of the ward showroom
Photo: SARC Architects

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Laser cut floor graphics of the caretakers’ office showroom
Photo: SARC Architects

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Moomin quote on the showroom’s wall
Photo: SARC Architects

While driving into a parking garage you dive into an underwater world continuing to the beach and jungle on the upper floors. The higher you go, there will be forests, valleys, mountains, space, and stars. Depending on the floor and theme, lightning will reflect the water surface, stardust or northern lights.

Uusi Lastensairaala Muumi hissi 2_kuva Kone Oyj
Special elevator “Water”
(Photo taken in the factory premises, the elevator partly covered with the protective tapes)
Photo: Kone Oyj

Uusi Lastensairaala Muumi hissi 3_kuva Kone Oyj
Special elevator “Water”
(Photo taken in the factory premises, the elevator partly covered with the protective tapes)
Photo: Kone Oyj 

Uusi Lastensairaala Muumi hissi_kuva Kone OyjSpecial elevator “Space”
Photo: Kone Oyj

The child’s point of view, the area for the family and the needs of the caretakers

The feedback from the caretakers has played an extremely important role in the planning stage, and the desire for a good everyday life in the hospital has been the most important starting point. The technical requirements of the hospital environment have also guided this exceptional design project. Architect Kiiveri thanks the suppliers for providing technical support as well as the assistance of the caretakers with the understanding of the functionality of the graphic designs.

The architect Anita Kiiveri said: “There are a number of factors that should be thought through from the point of view of the operational needs of the hospital. Some of the glass walls and doors should be covered with the opaque tapes, while others can be transparent showing through. To please both, the patients and the families, lightness and the positive graphics on the walls should also be included.” 

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Glass graphics in the showroom
Photo: SARC Architects

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Glass graphics in the showroom
Photo: SARC Architects

Hemulen’s Park of Silence has been the inspiration for the intensive care units. The valley-themed intensive care unit ward is designed with apples, pears, flowers, and shells, repeating them both on the glass doors and on the walls of the rooms as large graphical images. “Users find that big graphic designs work best, so in particular those elements have been included to the premises of the New Children’s Hospital,” says Kiiveri.

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Intensive care unit showroom
Photo: SARC Architects

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Intensive care unit showroom
Photo: SARC Architects

Uusi Lastensairaala Muumi teho-osasto omenat
Intensive care unit showroom
Photo: Moomin Characters

Healing and inspiring environment for the seriously ill children

Many of the Moomin stories are dealing with grief, attendance, forgiveness, and friendship, all of which are present in the everyday life of the hospital. Similarly, in almost every Moomin book by Tove Jansson the characters are in some new and unidentified environment. It is often repeated that the world can’t always be understood and this desperate feeling may also be present in the everyday life of families that have been encountered for example a child’s serious illness.

The creative director of Moomin Characters Ltd., Tove Jansson’s niece Sophia Jansson said: “The happy and comforting endings of the Moomin stories provide hope and it’s great that this also plays an important role for the SARC Architects in designing the New Children’s Hospital.”

Uusi Lastensairaala Hemuli
Graphics on the wall of the play ward showroom
Photo: Moomin Characters

The new Children’s Hospital has been granted the right to the license-free use of the Moomin stories.

Elevator photos: Kone Oyj
Photos from the showrooms: Arkkitehtitoimisto Sarc Oy & Moomin Characters