The team behind Germany’s largest orthopedic hospital is out to transform the patient experience. Forget all the sterile design with fluorescent lighting—and the dreaded hospital food. After 10 years of development, project leaders unveiled Waldkliniken Eisenberg in 2020, a €68 million resort-like facility in the Thuringian Forest where “the patient is the guest,” said Italian architect Matteo Thun. And now his studio is working once again with engineering and construction company HDR GmbH to create an adjoining rehab center. Building on its “hospitecture” concept, the new facility is designed to maximize nature’s healing power, while letting patients recover in style.
The Waldkliniken Rehab Hospital Campus will have 114 rooms spread across 9,700 square meters (104,410 square feet)—all wrapped within one of Germany’s most densely wooded areas. And the fusion of nature doesn’t stop with the name, Waldkliniken, which translates to forest clinic. The goal is to create a bond “between physical space and wellbeing,” by leaning into biophilic design—using natural materials and an infusion of light and color to promote healing.
To build a center that truly delivers what customers are looking for, Thun and the team sought feedback from stakeholders, including doctors and nurses, to understand the daily routines and needs of patients. The result? A circular floor plan so patients and visitors in all 752 rooms spanning six floors look out on the rolling, forest-covered landscapes. Each room has access to a winter garden and verandas shared between patients.
In keeping with the nature theme, the team sourced construction materials from the region, relied on local workers, limited energy consumption and emissions, and reused materials. These decisions led to economic benefits, too, reducing project life cycle costs and construction times through prefabrication.
The rehab center and hospital projects also revitalized a medical facility in desperate need of an upgrade. Now Waldkliniken is building a reputation as a healthcare destination—a full-on hospitecture experience complete with two fireplaces and three upscale restaurants.
“What defines the whole concept and the planning is the idea of hospitality and hospitecture merged,” said Marie Köhler of Waldkliniken.