The new building for the National Centre for Tumour Diseases (NCT) in Heidelberg is characterized by an open, friendly and inviting ambiance which has nothing in common with a typical hospital atmosphere.Here, patients, their relatives and friends, visitors, as well as staff can feel at ease. At the same time, the building provides an optimum environment for medical treatment and an ideal workplace for researchers, doctors, administrative and other staff.
The new building’s architecture is meant to highlight the character of the NCT, and to create an ideal setting for interdisciplinary work. Its central light-flooded atrium, extending over four floors, has been designed as a focal point fostering encounters and communication between doctors and scientists, patients and visitors. The eastern part of the building responds to the orthogonal structure and to the closed order of the adjacent „Kopfklinik“ (head clinics), which are part of Heidelberg’s university clinics. Here, three stacked floors accommodate the laboratories. The western part of the building develops more freely, setting itself off from the stringent orthogonal structure of the environment and responding to the slight curve of the street, this way establishing visual links to the „Kinderklinik“ (children’s clinics). Perched above is a two-storey, freely shaped volume which cantilevers over the building’s north entrance and western side.
This element accommodates the consultancy suites and tumour conference areas, as well as offices for research and medical staff. It architecturally unites the building. A generous and friendly reception area for patients offers clear orientation and leads them to the four ambulant treatment modules on levels 00 and 01.The technical plants are located under the laboratory wing. Rain water collected around the building is filtered before reaching the ground water. The use of activated slabs and air conditioning only where necessary, optimizes costs for both the installation and operation of the air conditioning plant. The building conforms to state-of-the-art requirements for an energetically optimized building and is connected to the existing supply chain of the clinics on the campus.
It is not surprising that hygenic and complex operational demands often take priority over aesthetic criteria in the design of furniture for the healthcare sector. The resulting large, cumbersome pieces of furniture have a huge influence on the character of the interiors spaces of contemporary clinics and hospitals. Product development in the field of specialist medical furniture is often impaired by the relatively small numbers involved and the budgets required for re-tooling, testing and certifcation, etc.
In the case of the recently completed National Centre for Tumor Diseases in Heidelberg, the Deutsche Krebshilfe as the Client, demanded that in keeping with their aims for progressive, comprehensive cancer treatment the new facilities and their interiors should express a decidedly different feel to that of the traditional clinic. The large reclining therapy chairs presented an obvious challenge.
Through working in collaboration with a specialist medical furniture manufacturer and the medical staff, Behnisch Architekten have created a chair that is very much a part on the new building; one which complements the interior architecture, whilst carefully respecting the demands of the patients. Though based upon a standard sub-frame and approved mechanisms, the reclining chairs appear to have little in common with conventional therapy furniture.
Although functionality remains, unsightly cables, buttons, etc. are carefully concealed and comfort is enhanced through exaggerated upholstered “wing” heads and armrests. The form and colours lend the chair a distinct character and make an essential contribution towards the intended lounge atmosphere.
Location: Heidelberg, Germany Architect: Behnisch Architekten Client: Deutsche Krebshilfe e.v./,Dr. Mildred Scheel Stiftung
Competition: 2005, 1st Prize
Planning and construction: 2007-2010
Gross: 13.120 m²
Volume: 55.860 m³ Photos: Adam Mørk