A Hospital Where Nature Helps Heal [Slideshow]

If you’re gonna recover from some horrible accident, you might want to do it in the Netherlands, and not just because of the excellent health care. The country is now home to one of the most arresting new hospitals we’ve seen in a long, long time.

The Rehabilitation Centre Groot Klimmendaal, by Dutch architect Koen van Velsen, is health-care architecture with a bedside manner. Set down in a woody stretch of Arnhem, in eastern Holland, it appears like an extension of the landscape: Its brownish-gold anodized-aluminium facade riffs off the color of the trees, and floor-to-ceiling glass gives the illusion of a seamless divide between the building and its surroundings. We’re especially smitten by a clutch of cantilevered glass cubes (see above), which literally reach out into the forest.

Hospital patients with a view of trees require fewer pain meds.

There’s actual science behind turning a health-care facility into a little, needle-wielding Walden, as Dr. Esther Sternberg writes in the fascinating, informative book Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being. For instance, she describes how hospital patients with a view of trees require fewer pain meds than patients with a view of a brick wall. By that logic, the Groot Klimmendaal might as well toss its entire stash of morphine.

The architecture mucky mucks clearly see something in the rehab center, too. It was announced recently as one of six finalists in this year’s European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture ” Mies van der Rohe Award, which is sorta” like the Cannes Jury Prize. The winner will be announced in June.

[Images courtesy of Koen van Velsen]