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Largest European expert centre for robotic surgery officially inaugurated

As Europe’s largest expert centre for robotic surgery, ORSI Academy has a great international renown. Only 5 years after its establishment, each year some 500 doctors find their way to Melle, Belgium, to follow training in minimally invasive surgery. The success begged for an extension. At the same time, this new campus offers a chance to dream of an exciting new future full of innovation. The new centre was designed by VK Architects & Engineers, who also designed and realised the existing centre.

VK Architects & Engineers was not only the architect of the new campus. We also took charge of the sustainable design, structural engineering, M&E engineering, infrastructure, façade engineering and acoustical engineering. The design shows a clear distinction between opaque and transparent façade elements, depending on the function that lies behind it. The new campus offers room for 4 clusters, each counting 4 to 6 operating rooms, besides meeting rooms, an auditorium with 120 seats, a restaurant, foyer and landscape office. “The design had to be transparent, as well as exude a certain confidentiality. So we chose an imposing game of open and closed aspects in the architecture of the façade and in the interior. On the one hand by combining large glazed surfaces with closed segments, clad with distinctive brickwork. On the other hand, by interchanging visual relations and perspectives with closed spaces”, says project manager Jeroen Bommerez.

Well-thought out layout

The lab-clusters are discreetly arranged at the back of the building, behind a partition glass wall. In front, a transparent volume functions as the central foyer. The ground floor furthermore houses an auditorium, restaurant and meeting facilities. The first floor contains offices and meeting rooms, while the roof offers a terrace. “Our design connects a rectangular one-floor-volume for all operating rooms with an L-shaped volume with two floors for all other functions,” explains Jeroen Bommerez. “A partially underground floor houses technical rooms, bringing the total useful surface area to 5,500 m².” This project was made possible thanks to a close collaboration between Ghent University Hospital, Ghent University, KU Leuven, University Hospitals Leuven, the province of East-Flanders, VLAIO and EFRO.