Healthcare Architecture Master´s Thesis 2021

Agnes Ståhl

– The Spark –

How can architecture support the mental and physical needs of people affected by cancer?


– A support center for people affected by cancer

At some point in life most people will be affected by cancer, it is a widespread disease, affecting both the patient and everyone close to them. Getting diagnosed with cancer is tough, medical treatment is important but so is mental support. Today there seems to be a gap between the healthcare system and the mental support both during and after treatment. 

About 60.000 persons in Sweden get a cancer diagnose each year. A support center aims to create a place where people affected by cancer can relax, recharge and become stronger. It is also about finding a way to remove the stigma and create a safe zone where it is okay to feel weak and to cry. A cancer support center is not a new concept, but it is non-existent in Gothenburg and would function as a complement to today’s healthcare.

“As a cancer patient you lose your control, identity and integrity. You get dehumanized and need others in the same situation to be able to survive”

– Louise Lindquist Sassene 2021
Personal communication
Translated by author

Following is a small summary of the master thesis, if you are interested in reading more about the background and the design proposal links to the booklet and abstract can be found here as well as in the end of the reading. Happy reading!

Contact information to the author:


The research has been made mainly through Research for design. This has been done by literature studies, to gain knowledge about cancer, healing architecture and biophilic design. Interviews and surveys with people affected by cancer has been made/sent out. And existing buildings with similar functions has been studied.

“The healthcare system is top notch when it comes to cancer and treatment. But when this is done it is goodbye immediately. What happens now?”

– Emelie Ogenhag, 2021
Personal communication
Translated by author

A healing approach

Different strategies has been in focus when it comes to the architectural approach. The one that has been most important is nature since it has a positive affect on peoples well-being and recovery. With the help of Biophilic design nature has been implemented in the design. Nature also contributes to positive distractions and a stimulating atmosphere, two of the other strategies used in this master thesis.


Site critera

It should not be located in the hospital but preferably close.

Central location.

Close to nature.

A site that is likely to be built on in the future.

The site is currently a parking lot located in a valley between two mountain edges. In the east is a residential area and on the west side Norra Medicinareberget hosting Sahlgrenska and Gothenburg’s university premises. North and south of the site are two allotment gardens.

The most common way to arrive to the site is from the south. It takes about 9 minutes to walk from the oncology clinic, and only 7 minutes to walk from nearest public transport stop.

1. Looking on the site from the south 2. The west parts of the site looking on to Norra Medicinareberget
3. Looking south of the site towards the allotment garden 4. Small path leading to the allotment garden north of the site 5. Passing the allotment gardens on the way to the site from the south 6.One of the two mountain rooms that exists on the site