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Hospital planning: interaction between a form and its function

VK Architects & Engineers, on the invitation of Baumschlager Eberle Architekten (Austria) and Christian Bauer & Associés (Luxembourg), took part in an international competition for an urban development on the Kirchberg plateau, next to the historical city centre of Luxembourg. The question read: design a multifunctional hospital that fits perfectly with the current environment and its buildings. The project was recently awarded to us, based on the vertical design we realised.

Priority to functionality

The available surface for this project was limited. The solution we proposed shows a vertical building design, counting 17 floors and able to house all sorts of activities. In the first instance, it obviously concerns a hospital, but we also created space for more retail, a hotel and a creche. “Because of the building’s verticality, we opted to stack all activities, giving each function its proper place within the building”, tells Peter Deneut, director Healthcare Design with VK Architects & Engineers.

As such, the first floor is reserved for the emergency unit, and all dialysis and therapeutic patients are supported on the two suprajacent floors. The hospital rooms occupy 3 floors. “We were able to realise lovely rooms, with a small inclination, giving the room a slanted aspect. We kept that line when placing the bed. This creates more space in the room, also making it more accessible for wheelchairs. In addition, it ensures visual contact with the patient while standing at the door, without having to enter the room.”

So stacking all activities, creates quite a few possibilities regarding the division of activities. It also has its consequences architecturally. “As a consequence, the stacking also resulted in some voids. This allowed us to integrate at the front of the building, along the main road, some sort of gallery where people can shop. The back figures a cantilever, five floors high, looking out to the courtyard and pedestrian section”, says Peter. “It gives more playful dynamics and allows for additional daylight admittance by means of patios, or for roof terraces to introduce a green vibe in the project.”

Hybrid volume in a vertical construction

The three designing parties chose to treat the building’s architecture and programming on an equal level. This results in a hybrid building model consisting of several classic (hospital) typologies.

“On the lower floors, we have an L-shaped volume round a forecourt. In the middle of the building, we switch to a functional square shape, while opting for an L-shaped open tower model higher up, typical for hotel functions.”

Yet, throughout the building, a clear distinction was made between the functional and public dimension. The various flows of all activities are neatly separated thanks to a clear hierarchy of hallways and accessibility. For example, the polyclinical access area serves as a sort of day clinic, with waiting areas, consultation points and even examination rooms. Whereas the outer core is perfect for the therapeutic aspect and all matters concerning dialysis, because of the view on the courtyard. And the inner core between the vertical shafts is useful for the logistical services.

The result? A structured building on a human scale, where all functions are organised in a basic relationship, and in doing so, creating a healing environment.