A gold in being green

29 Nov 2011

Austria's first 'green' hospital is afforded national architectural Award

The hospital in the park, the patient at the center; This is the simplistic, yet essential, essence to the Klinikum Klagenfurt hospital complex, recent recipient of one of the most important architectural awards in Austria - namely, the prestigious ‘Austrian Client’s Award 2011. Behind this recognition was an appreciation, for what is a prime example of future-oriented building, with an abundance of natural light penetrating to its core. The third largest hospital in the country was designed with the users closely involved in the planning process; ensuring practicality was never waylaid for image. Another enhancing benefit of this sought collaboration was to help to increase the project’s cost-efficient nature, save the client operating costs.

According to jury member, architect and author Otto Kapfinger, the €314m structure received the Award due to the fact that ‘it represents a re-definition of a de-centralised low garden city’, with easily assimilated orientation systems for patients and visitors' alike. Implementing a clear colour way-finding system, characterised by stretches of pleasant transparency, this simple network of circulation spaces, is scattered with differentiated landscaped courtyards. The effect of this is the creation of a ‘peaceful, human-centric environment.’

The hospital is the first in Austria to be certified by the EU as a Green Building. The energy concept consists of such: The heating requirement for the Medical-Surgical Center is 37% below the required value of the EPBD energy and ecology guidelines by the EU; and the cooling demand is as much as 41% percent lower. This saves the hospital four gigawatt hours of electricity per year, which corresponds approximately to the performance of two hydroelectric power plants. The investment costs are fully covered by the savings - which can be refinanced by comparing the previous pavilion structure to the new central structures - up to €22m annually.

46% of the façade is made of glass - at points stretching across several floors - establishing a direct visual connection to the river. The bottom of the window is positioned at seat height so that the patients are afforded an unobstructed view of the landscape, whilst lying in bed. The examination rooms and 14 operating rooms are equipped with modern amenities, such as a CT scanner on rails, in order to allow for a quicker-than-standard diagnosis, during surgery.

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