The human touch was the defining point for both WAN juries when it came to the Healthcare entries this year, with the two winning projects applauded for their personal qualities. Topping the completed category was Behnisch Architekten’s National Centre for Tumour Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg, which roused Stantec Anshen + Allen’s Catherine Zeliotis to claim: “It’s actually a very human space and it’s not trying to overwhelm you and yet I think it’s quite exciting.”
This modest yet considered approach was also favoured by our unbuilt panel, who chose Perkins+Will’s Kenyan Women and Children’s Wellness Centre in Nairobi as their winning scheme. Remote juror Mette Blicher Folmer was keen to express her opinion that the concept’s design team ‘have used shadowing, space size and texture of the materials in a very human and aesthetic way’.
This thought was also picked up by the onsite jurors, who were impressed by the sensitivity of the winning practice to the site context, noting that ‘you can make the whole thing in Africa; you wouldn’t have to fly the materials in from the West or South East Asia’, with Ann Noble adding: “It’s nice to see a building that’s tailored to Kenya. It could have been very easy to have a more American looking scheme, but not here.”
Another parallel drawn between Behnisch Architekten and Perkins+Will’s successful schemes was the topical nature of their designs and the ways in which they met challenges faced on a wider scale. BDP’s Andrew Smith took a broader look at the Kenyan Women and Children’s Wellness Centre and considered: “The other aspect is the challenge that the world faces by and large is how do you get the health of the largest number of people up for the lowest possible amount of money and in that context, this is more interesting.”
Similar thoughts were heard during the completed jury session, Catherine Zeliotis commenting: “[The NCT is] bringing labs and cancer patients together in one building, that’s very innovative. Everybody talks about it.” This combination of research and treatment facilities in a single volume was gladly received by the WAN jury, who asserted a desire to see more healthcare resources of this nature in the near future. Once again the WAN AWARDS entries are paving the way for forthcoming concepts!
Congratulations to both design firms on their well-deserved success!