Behnisch Architekten’s Stuttgart office has won the two-stage architectural competition established by the ISREC Foundation (Swiss Institute for experimental cancer research) to create a new home for the AGORA – Cancer Centre in Lausanne, Switzerland. The AGORA – Cancer Centre exists specifically to bring together scientists and practitioners under one roof as part of a community of expertise. The opportunity for enhancing communication within the new building was a major focus of the competition. The scheme of Behnisch Architekten was selected for its ability to address these concerns in a very holistic architectural and functional way. The project represents an outstanding architectural and programmatic challenge wherein integrating the building’s diverse requirements within an extremely heterogeneous and tight urban fabric places great demands on the design concept. Set for completion in 2016, the new Cancer Centre will accommodate 400 researchers and clinicians.
The decision to link to an existing building on one side while creating a harmonious transition to nature on the other, informs the building’s structure without adversely affecting the site’s existing programmatic functions. Visual relationships both on the site and to the landscape beyond also require a carefully defined building mass. The resulting building responds sensitively to these site conditions while sculpturally standing out from its heterogeneous surroundings. Many of the building’s shared amenities occupy a zone called the agora, a continuous interior landscape that acts as the connective element between the public areas and the research labs above.
Spatial qualities, directly perceived through daylight, proportion and materiality, should be equally visible in public areas and in the highly technical laboratories. Interdisciplinary and disciplinary communication are both central to successful research and are evident in the organization of the floor plans. Communication areas are located throughout the new building, both inside and outside. The agora, the public level of the Cancer Research Centre, connects the campus’s existing pathways to the laboratory and office levels via interconnected communication areas and informal workplaces.
The internal organization of the programmatic areas offers the users a high level of flexibility to provide the necessary freedom for future changes. The building skin is designed to enhance daylight use in the depth of the building. In specific areas operable windows allow for natural ventilation. This provides for a better individual climate control. Daylight enhancement systems, optimized sunlight protection, the responsible management of natural resources in the construction and maintenance of the building, as well as the use of both renewable and existing energy systems on site are preconditions for a successful and sustainable working environment. They, together with ISREC’s own research goals, establish a future oriented image for the new facility.
About the AGORA – Cancer Centre
The AGORA – Cancer Centre is a project implemented by the ISREC Foundation (Swiss Institute for experimental cancer research), the CHUV (Centre hospitalier universitaire vaudois), the EPFL (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne) and the UNIL (University of Lausanne) with a budget of 70 million Swiss Francs. The ISREC Foundation has made it possible to launch the project with an initial installment of 15 million. ‘We are delighted to see the project in motion and to have been able to unite all actors in cancer research around a common goal’, stated Jean-Marc Tissot, Director of the ISREC Foundation. Aside from the 15 million, two donations of 10 million each have also been bequeathed to the ISREC Foundation in support of the project. In all, the ISREC Foundation has already secured 50% of its funding.
Many rich and complementary collaborations have long existed between the researchers at UNIL and EPFL and the clinicians at CHUV. The creation of the SCCL (Swiss Cancer Centre Lausanne) formally marks the ambition of three major Institutions to pool and co-ordinate their different areas of expertise in the field of oncology and improve the synergies between fundamental researchers and clinicians. The goal? To bring to the bedside as soon as possible the new treatments to emerge from this coordinated research.
About Behnisch Architekten
Behnisch Architekten was founded as a branch office of Behnisch & Partner in 1989 and, under the leadership of Stefan Behnisch, developed into a successful, internationally active firm. In 1991 it became independent in its partnership structure. While Günter Behnisch continued to lead his office, Behnisch and Partner, until 2005, this developed through various partnerships to become, since 2005, the architecture office called Behnisch Architekten.
In 1999, an office was opened in Los Angeles (to 2011), in 2006 another in Boston and in 2009 the Munich office was founded.
The three offices are led by Stefan Behnisch, each together with a partner. In Munich it is Robert Hösle, in Boston, Robert Matthew Noblett and in the Stuttgart office Stefan Rappold. All three offices operate together and in close collaboration, each working on their respective projects upon their own authority.
One of the office’s motives is the thought that architecture has a direct influence on living quality in all areas of life. This emphasis on the social dimension is a decisive aspect of the work of Behnisch Architekten.