Iagttagelser om leg i Københavns kommende børnehospital BørneRiget

Lone Graff Stensballe

Student thesis: Master executive thesis


A new hospital is being built in Copenhagen for pregnant women, children, and adolescents. The new hospital, named BørneRiget, is expected to open in 2025. The organisation of BørneRiget has introduced play and playfulness as a universal design principle. Play has however been used in paediatrics for decades. Toys, playgrounds, hospital clowns, and recreational activities are normal in paediatric departments. So, what exactly is meant by play and playfulness as a universal design principle? What play are we talking about? In which situations is the new play going to be used, for which purposes? And what does that bring into play - what may the introduction of play lead to? Moreover, in the introduction of play as a universal concept in BørneRiget, what is the role of the main external sponsor of BørneRiget, Ole Kirks Fond, from the world-famous toy and play concept manufacturer, The LEGO Group? The semantics regarding the concept of play is studied in an empiric base of organisational documents, scientific papers, and seven semi-structured interviews with members of the management from the BørneRiget organisation. The study uses Niclas Luhmann’s system theories of 2nd order observations, social function systems, and social perceptions and communications being transferred through and based on forms established on loosely linked medias. According to Luhmann, 2nd order observation is the observation of how things e.g. play is being observed by others. Social function systems represent the primary pattern of how modern societies are organised. The health system and the scientific system are obvious examples of function systems of importance to hospitals. Gregory Bateson’s theory of play, defined as continuously bringing everything into play and thereby showing that everything could always be different, is used to study the organisational phenomenon called potentialization. Potentialization is a concept used to define the state of modern organisations, which forced by rapid societal developments, challenges, and increasing demands, need to always consider new possibilities and optimisations in continuous process of rearrangements. The analysis has seven major findings: 1. For 100 years the concept of play in paediatric hospitals has developed from a specific care function for children to a hegemonic mindset of positive properties essential to our future life, possibilities, and coping strategies. 2. BørneRiget has not defined play, meaning that the play concept is open for interpretation, but also that it is not entirely clear what play in facts stands for. 3. Several social function systems from BørneRiget, the health system, the scientific system, the sports system, the pedagogical system, the psychosocial system, the economic system, and the political system, all observe and interpret play. In addition, the function systems observe each other’s observations of play, resulting in a complex matrix of interpretations of what play stands for. The expectations to the effects of play are high and multiple. The function systems are all positive towards play and able to identify how play may be advantageous and improve their own societal functions. The fact that all function systems see themselves reflected in play means that play may be used to unify and align the forces of the function system in the process of developments and changes needed for BørneRiget to fulfil the ambitions of becoming a global leading hospital for children.

EducationsMaster of Public Governance, (Executive Master Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2021
Number of pages49
SupervisorsNiels Åkerstrøm Andersen