Helios Hospital

Verlbert, Germany

In renovating the grounds of a hospital built in the 1960s, AE7 took a holistic approach to imagining the site as an integrated healthcare campus that serves its patients, staff, neighbors, and the surrounding region. The design extended beyond the client’s expectations, integrating sustainable and biophilic concepts to support health and wellbeing throughout this 350-bed regional clinic.

AE7’s campus master plan for the 15-acre/6-hectare site utilizes a design language of linear, horizontal bands to connect spaces within the site and to surrounding neighbors. For example, the designers created new walkways reaching from the hospital to the surrounding streets. At a more intimate scale, long, raised planters and rectangular benches shape the multifunctional entrance plaza that accommodates bicycle parking, expanded public transit access, and outdoor seating for the cafeteria.

Healing Landscape

The master plan balances dynamic, accessible public spaces with specialized, intimate outdoor environments. The hospital includes one central courtyard with seating areas as well as a playground for visitors and patients,  and green areas for walking and gathering. On a smaller scale, an outdoor therapy garden was designed with the input of doctors and staff who are now able to integrate the garden and biophilic therapies into their practices. The therapy garden has winding pathways, outdoor fitness equipment, and integrated sensory therapy elements inspired by the German pedagogue and artist Hugo Kükelhaus. The garden includes raised planters designed for people in wheelchairs, an edible planting palette, and areas with shade for those with sensory limitations and sensitivities.


Sustainability remained an important consideration throughout the holistic design approach. AE7 created a comprehensive stormwater management plan that would allow the site to bypass public stormwater infrastructure entirely. The designers developed a strategy to plant the hospital grounds with a low maintenance, ecological meadow consisting of wildflowers and various grasses that add color and expand natural habitat within a minimal budget. Local trees, grasses, and four-season plants such as evergreens are used wherever possible. Decorative plants line the walkways connecting the hospital to its surrounding neighborhood, completing an overall campus concept with an elegant and sensitive design.

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