RUN Cluster Architecture

    ‘Through the fusion of psychosocial, therapeutic, pedagogical and lounge areas, the Room for Development, Upgrowth and Normality (RUN-Cluster) is formed as an innovative and unique in-patient-care-environment in future children’s hospitals that contributes proactively to an important aspect of medical care: namely, to foster children and their parents beyond the scope of necessary medical treatment.’

(A hospital for the region, a clinic for the entire world! Vollmer, TC & Koppen, G. Freiburg  2016)


    In 2013 the CEO, Prof. Dr. Charlotte Niemeyer, of the University Children’s Hospital in Freiburg, Germany commissioned the Dutch research and design office kopvol architecture and psychology to develop the spatial design criteria for the new building of the University Children’s Hospital Unsere Kinder- und Jugendklinik Freiburg. It is the foundation of an institution that will provide both expert and empathetic care for annually 75,000 sick children and adolescents. And it is the basis for an environment that fosters recovery and development, maintains the health of parents and staff and keeps in mind future generations by responsibly using resources.

    Under the title ‘Patient orientation is not a luxury but a duty of medical care.’ kopvol developed a spatial quality program that convinced important political and economic stake holders as well as decision-makers and lobbyists to support the realization of the new building and its high standard quality criteria. After compiling the usage specifications and receiving official clearance from the Treasury of Baden-Württemberg, the qualitative space concepts were integrated in the Europe-wide architectural competition: A unique step in the history of Healthcare Building in Germany, resulting in overwhelming positive press and public reactions (



    One of the concepts which is developed and described in the quality program is the so called Room for Development, Upgrowth and Normality (RUN). RUN is a cluster of 113 m2 semi-private in-patient-care-environment that connects several wards and brings together children, adolescents and their families. In this RUN-cluster the clinical stay of those who are physically able to participate is spatially clearly structured along the patterns of everyday life: ‘sleeping in the patient room’, ‘eating in the common room‘, ‘playing in the play area‘, ‘learning in classrooms and moving and developing in the therapy and sports areas‘. On the other hand, special enclosed areas for adolescents and young adults are designed to enable intermittent social retreat and individual recreation. The RUN-Cluster likewise includes special therapy rooms and a pleasantly designed area where parents can exchange information and retreat to. The therapy range is easily accessible and spatially takes up direct contact with patient and family. Caregivers have enough overview on the new cluster to -without trouble- keep an eye on medicaments, equipment, but also on eating behaviour. The cluster is consciously placed in the entrance area to immediately attract the attention of children and adolescents upon admission to the ward. This visibility both stimulate its use and movement (getting out of the patient’s room). The result is that the ‘Room for development, Upgrowth and Normality’ supports the daily lives of children, adolescents and their parents as well as stimulates the physical, mental and social development of children and adolescents. Conclusively, the RUN-Cluster is a typology of Evidence Based Healing Environments.