Bonnema Architects design a 'healing house' to make patients feel at home
1 million bricks, 2,500,000 kilo structural steel, 25,000 sq m of Chinese stone, 12 robots that control transport through the hospital, a computerised centre with 6,000 clothing kits for doctors and nurses, 700 km ICT pipelines and 24 lifts. That is the architectural view of the Maasland Hospital in Sittard. This seems a mere accumulation of material, but a hospital design is by no means an easy task. A 'healing house' design is hard; a 'healing house of the future' is even harder. An extremely complex process, where the role of the architect varies between that of composer and conductor.
Bonnema Architects have strived for over fifty years to create functional architecture and believe that functionality in health care can save lives. Since 2001, Bonnema Architects were involved in the planning of the hospital of the future in Sittard. The design was highly structured from the outset and the brief that ‘the patient is central' was integral to the process.
The healing house in Sittard has six main areas: the centre for screening and diagnosis, the surgery centre, treatment centre, nursing centre and the centre of knowledge and expertise. The logistics centre, the sixth area, supports and facilitates the five centres previously mentioned. The centres vary, making the atmosphere feel anything but hospital like. According to Bonnema Architects everything in a hospital does not need to have a clinical appearance. They go for more ‘high touch' than high tech.
Unlike traditional hospitals, which are notorious busy with infinite corridors and hard flooring making bad acoustics and annoying light reflections, Bonnema Architects applied in Sittard soft carpeting, indirect lighting, lots of transparency to increase visibility and lots of items of furniture. This reinforces the feeling of being at home. The living room is also the area where the patient takes their first tentative step towards recovery and rehabilitation .
The design of the wards grew from the healing environment principle. The patient rooms, all single rooms, are situated around a common living room. The spaces are separated by sliding doors, so patients can decide whether to interact with others or relax in private. The living rooms in the Maasland Hospital are confined areas, which offer patients a familiar, homely and quiet atmosphere.