The Lausanne University Hospital is among the most advanced hospitals in the world. Located in the heart of Lake Geneva, Switzerland, it is known to be one of the five university hospitals in the country with Geneva, Bern, Basil, and Zurich. Better known in French as CHUV (Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois), its public services play a vital role in the fields of medical care, research, and training.
Affiliated with the Faculty of Biology and Medicine of the University of Lausanne (UNIL), the CHUV’s medical services cater to over 45,000 patients every year. The university hospital serves as a general university hospital in the Lausanne area, specializing in all areas of medical treatment. In 2015, the extension building of the hospital was erected. Located at the heart of the hospital complex is the extension to the Coordinated Centre of Oncology. The additional building serves as a copy of the existing one, providing extra facilities for operation and logistics – creating a wider and better space program.
With its world-class services and facilities, this university hospital became the leading hospital in Switzerland in 2019 to Newsweek Magazine.
Rationalism and Generosity. Philippe Meir and his partners integrate spatiality, attention to detail, the pursuit of abstraction, and relationship with the landscape into the final output of his works – resulting in a well-thought and holistic design.
The design team took its strategy from the hospital’s vision – with a vision of medicine at the crossroads of the sciences and humanities (“Home | Lausanne University Hospital”). Hence creating a user-centric design principle prioritizing quality space planning and visuals that elevates comfort among end-users. This became an important idea introduced by the founder of Meier + Associés Architects, Philippe Meier. He added that collective knowledge from years of experience should allow architecture to evolve – one that observes a positive impact on society and the people in a particular community without compromising design and aesthetics. Bold architecture that not only makes an appealing façade but also amplifies the importance of proper space planning and creating the appropriate interior design that caters to the users’ well-being.
“For people suffering from this disease, we wanted to propose something that moves them away from the classic and sometimes traumatic world of a hospital. We wanted to create an atmosphere where natural light dominates artificial light and where rounder shapes bring a softness that the usual cold and long corridors cannot offer” (“Meier + Associés Architectes | Creating Impact through Knowledge”).
The architectural firm’s design ideas were translated into the design of the Lausanne University Hospital Extension. The building’s massing of the new extension is laid lengthwise in two levels. The lower floor is dedicated to the Coordinated Centre of Oncology, and office spaces for doctors occupy the second level. Meticulously deliberated, the new building is designed to provide functional spaces and serves the same function, as if a transplant from the original.
Materials and Construction
The challenge was to produce a pleasant yet functional architectural design. This goal is achieved by using construction materials like glass, steel, and reinforced concrete – a few materials usually introduced by the firm in their outputs. Since Switzerland is a cold country, the use of glass captures sunlight and stores heat – minimizing the use of heating devices. The metal framing components help stabilize the new infrastructure; these metal columns are braced by the existing reinforced concrete pillars in bolted assembly. The façades are prefabricated hence lessening the time of assembly and speeding up the construction.
The building is designed with consideration to sustainable practice. It is provided with a gargantuan green roof which is a part of climate-proof construction. A few other advantages of this design are to create a rainwater buffer, purify the air, provide vegetation, and reduce the ambient temperature. On its core is a skylight, strategically located to allow sunlight penetration to the interior spaces. As if a comfort from the heavens, the play of light helps create a serene environment suited for reducing anxiety among patients. These smart and sustainable design strategies allow the structure to save more in terms of energy in the long run.
Meier + Associés Architects believe that architecture is evolving and thus dismiss the notion of architectural style in relation to façade and aesthetics but focus more on the importance of the in-depth study of space programming, appropriate materials, construction methodology, and user-friendly designs. It is also timely and relevant to incorporate smart construction to reduce on-site costs and minimize waste while achieving the best delivery during the first attempt as much as possible.
There can be a lot of considerations when it comes to the technical aspects of construction. But the final output should always serve its purpose. It must be functional while seeking to provide maximum comfort to end-users as if an architecture that feels for its people. Truly, Meier + Associés Architects displayed just that in this passionate creation – The Lausanne University Hospital Extension.
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www.lausanneuniversityhospital.com. (n.d.). Home | Lausanne University Hospital. [online] Available at: https://www.lausanneuniversityhospital.com/home. [Accessed 27 Oct. 2022]
Discover Germany, Switzerland and Austria. (2019). meier + associés architectes | Creating impact through knowledge. [online] Available at: https://www.discovergermany.com/meier-associes-architectes/.
Architonic. (n.d.). Heal Thyself: new healthcare architecture. [online] Available at: https://www.architonic.com/it/story/dominic-lutyens-heal-thyself-new-healthcare-architecture/7001660 [Accessed 29 Oct. 2022].