Children’s emergency ward becomes a healing jungle

Bare, dreary, reverberating treatment rooms at Queen Silvia Children’s Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden, have been transformed into sound-friendly “healing rooms” with a jungle theme. The redesign has proved a hit with patients and staff alike.

People & design Healthcare

“Happiness is a great healer. We want being in hospital to be a fun and exciting experience for the kids,” explains Tomas Gedda, head of fundraising at the Foundation for Queen Silvia Children’s Hospital in Gothenburg.

Four years have now passed since Tomas Gedda embarked on the successful “healing rooms” project. The Foundation funds and provides ancillary services designed to make a child’s hospital stay as pleasant as possible. The thinking is that fun activities, games and music reduce fear and pain, speeding the healing process.


Children who are in pain and feeling stressed don’t want to lie there in bare, reverberating rooms decorated in dull colours.

Panda interior

Tomas Gedda worked in partnership with the management of the emergency department to improve the dreary, somewhat shabby environment that young patients were faced with. “Children who are in pain and feeling stressed don’t want to lie there in bare, reverberating rooms decorated in dull colours, with cables criss-crossing the ceiling,” says Tomas Gedda. 

As a pilot project, four rooms in the emergency department were selected to undergo a complete redesign. BittraBritta, the interior design firm awarded the contract, chose a particular jungle or savannah animal as the theme for each room: jaguar, parrot, zebra and chimpanzee. In Siv the zebra’s room, for instance, the wallpaper and pictures on the walls all feature zebra motifs. Each room also contains postcards telling an amusing story about how the animal ended up in this very room.

Panels printed with motifs of the appropriate animal are mounted on the walls, and there is a sound-absorbent inner ceiling, printed with a jungle motif, covering the entire space.

A sound loop in each room plays a pleasant background noise from the animal’s daily life. In the zebra room, for example, you can hear the sound of a herd of zebras approaching. “The kids love this,” says Tomas Gedda. “We often see tired, unhappy children perk up when they enter one of the rooms.” 

Did you know…

… that the average noise level in Swedish healthcare settings is 53 dB(A), equivalent to standing next to a kitchen extractor fan.

...noise levels peak at 80–90 dB(A) in the course of the day, equivalent to a busy motorway.

The floor in each room is sound-absorbent, and dimmers help to create comfortable lighting. The furnishings too have been replaced with pieces in appropriate colours and designs. To make the space feel more homelike, medical products and instruments are stashed away in closed drawers. Continuing the nature theme, even the chairs in some of the rooms are leaf-shaped, with organic lines. 


We often see tired, unhappy children perk up when they enter one of the rooms.

 “We opted to create a holistic feeling and to stimulate all the senses of the children,” explains Hanna Brotén, interior designer at BittraBritta. “It’s possible to do a lot in the way of design, despite the strict requirements regarding hygiene and functionality.” 

In all, 16 spaces have now been refurbished in the emergency department and other parts of the hospital. More rooms are set to follow. “Our next project is to refurbish the waiting room and the corridor in the X-ray department with a Gothenburg archipelago theme. There will be a pier on the floor, boathouses, navigation markers, seabird sounds and lots more,” reveals Tomas Gedda.

If you want to see more jungle-themed healing rooms at the at Queen Silvia Children’s Hospital, you can take a 360 degree interactive tour 


Text: Fredrik Sieradzki

Photo: Anders Kämpe (zebra, jaguar), Christine Oyko Bengtsson (tiger), David Chocron (panda)