The building of opportunities helps rest the eye, ear and mind
Seinäjoki’s building of opportunities, better known as M-talo or Building M, forms a vital part of the recovery process. Pieces of art, images of nature, lighting that imitates the rhythm of the day, and a calming acoustic environment support the wellbeing of both patients and healthcare staff.
Opened in October 2021, Seinäjoki Central Hospital’s Building M houses adult psychiatry, children and youth psychiatry and rehabilitation provisions, the City of Seinäjoki’s substance abuse clinic and facilities for psychologists and social workers, and Ruutipuisto Hospital School. The building also features a library, café-restaurant and gym that are open to the public.
“Building M brings together services in Seinäjoki that were previously decentralised and opens up psychiatric services. Traditionally, psychiatric hospitals have been located far from society’s population hubs. However, there is now a drive to draw mental health services into forming a part of the general care provision. An easily accessible location, high-quality architecture and facilities that are open to all reduce the stigma associated with psychiatric care and lower the threshold for accessing such services,” states Project Manager Tapani Harju from Mediwest Research Center Oy.
Creating a smart hospital with a human touch by listening to the users
The significance of factors such as nature, art, light and acoustics for promoting recovery and occupational wellbeing have all been taken into account in Building M.
“Single-occupancy patient rooms, a lake view from the windows, plenty of natural light, lighting that imitates the natural rhythm of the day, good acoustics, and nature-inspired themes are proven to support psychological recovery. The family and wider network being taken into account in the spaces also fosters a sense of safety and security, with close friends or family able to stay overnight on the wards at Building M, for example. We have tried to take a comprehensive approach to people’s wellbeing, viewing it as something that extends far beyond just their medical treatment,” explains the project’s Design Coordinator Marja Koivumäki from the Hospital District of South Ostrobothnia.
Resource orientation and a sense of community also played a key role in designing the facilities for care staff.
“Building M features a four-floor break area, with internal stairs and a small balcony on each floor. Staff can spend their breaks during the working day in a way that suits them, be it with a spot of exercise, enjoying a coffee, taking some silent time, or meeting with professionals from all kinds of other specialisms. The different themes in the break area were inspired by what the users wanted,” states Design Coordinator and Architect Kaisa Härkönen of Raami Architects.
A good acoustic environment supports recovery and work
In healthcare facilities, ensuring good acoustics and preventing excess noise are pivotal. The pleasant acoustic environment in Building M is facilitated by factors such as the grouping of various spaces and the choices of materials. Sounds in patient rooms, corridors, dining facilities and the library are efficiently absorbed by Ecophon ceiling panels.
“In the larger back-office workspaces, we also used textile panels, upholstered movable furniture and angled walls to make the acoustic environment as pleasant as possible,” explains Härkönen.
“Good acoustics are proven to reduce stress in patients and staff, lower blood pressure, improve quality of sleep and bolster patient privacy by preventing confidential information from being overheard. In Building M we placed emphasis on both aesthetics and acoustics, making it a pleasant environment for all users,” summarises Ecophon Healthcare Concept Developer Jyrki Kilpikari.
Building M, Seinäjoki Central Hospital
- Single-occupancy patient rooms, each with en-suite toilet and shower, for 70 patients
- Facilities include an outdoor exercise space, virtual space, sensory wall and silent room
- Developer: Mediwest Research Center Oy
- Design: Raami Architects and Kontukoski Architects Ltd
- Total area: 27,000 gross m2
- Cost: EUR 63.4 million
Photos: Wellu Hämäläinen