Princess Máxima Centre for child oncology is located in Utrecht, Netherlands. The facility is the biggest oncology centre in Europe with a 45,000 m² area. The desire of Princess Máxima Centre for child oncology is to cure every child with cancer and to offer them a quality life. It has a development-oriented care principle and the design of the building also goes in line with this aim. The facility serves not only as a care centre but also as a research centre for health workers. The building’s most striking design strategy is the connection of each function and the development of a quality living atmosphere.

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Princess Máxima Centre for child oncology_©Ronald Tilleman

Design Philosophy

LIAG Architects’ main approach to Princess Máxima Centre for child oncology building is to create a healing environment. Children need to be in a healing environment with development opportunities while they are ill. In the structure, which is organised according to age, connections between spaces are designed according to the needs and social interaction of each age group. The urge to create a healthy environment led to design considering all environmental factors. Children who were not cut off from the natural environment increased their well-being as they experienced the seasonal transitions, the day-night rhythm, and social interactions while being in a family-friendly domestic environment. These approaches influenced the planning of the building.

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Social courtyard of the centre_©Ronald Tilleman

Planning and Design Solutions

Princess Máxima Centre for child oncology is creating a connection between research centres and children’s healing. The design of the planning approach is also connected with these functions. The main design strategy can be counted as the natural transition between inside and outside. The created route through the building allows a meeting area for children, families, nurses, and researchers. The importance given to the children’s both physical and mental health led architects to create homely rooms. Connected parent rooms to the child room are flexible and all rooms have their own accessible open areas. The communal kitchens, social areas, and lecture rooms allow users to have time with family and friends. Since the facility is located near the Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital (WKZ), LIAG designed a connection bridge to make easy and pleasant access.

Landscape

PMC works like a bridge between the city and the vast landscape of meadows and forests. The property is located in a landscape surrounded by trees. The entrance courtyard is designed with greenery and functions like a bridge over a pond. The wetland at the entrance is the continuation of the pond that continues along the main perimeter. Gardens created for various functions and activity areas surround the building. Two closed courtyard gardens operate as a restaurant and a sports garden. There is also a semi-open vine garden and a silo garden where the necessary nitrogen tanks are preserved.

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General view of the facility with bridge and ponds_©bouwensen.nl
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_Colonaid entrance_©Ronald Tilleman
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Main route through the building_©Ronald Tilleman
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Ground floor plan_©LIAG Architects
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First floor plan_©LIAG Architects
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Second floor plan_©LIAG Architects
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Third floor plan_©LIAG Architects
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Rooms and outside connection_©Ronald Tilleman
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Child room and parent room_©Ronald Tilleman
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Bridge that connects facility to WKZ_©Christiaan de Bruijne

Materials

As a building designed for children, one of its aims was to make the building not look childish. One of the most striking features of Princess Máxima Centre for Child Oncology, which is a very large facility, is its colourful façades. These colours used on the façade have other purposes besides just appearing lively from the outside. These colours, which are also reflected inside, offer an impressive experience, especially on the bridge between the facility and the hospital. It was aimed to prevent the deep effects of the unpleasant relationship with the hospital throughout the disease process. In this bridge alone, approximately 650 pieces of glass were used in combinations of 15 different colours. The colours chosen, on the other hand, are in the rainbow spectrum, aiming to illuminate and trigger feelings of happiness and hope throughout the journey with the hospital.

Apart from the bridge, the colourful frames in the rainbow spectrum seen on the white façade of the building also provide continuity and a lively image. The wooden coatings used on the facades of the building facing the courtyards and in the interior also trigger the feeling of a warm and friendly space, unlike the cold walls of the usual hospitals and care centres.

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Colorful bridge_©Christiaan de Bruijne
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Colorful bridge_©Christiaan de Bruijne
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Colorful bridge_©Ronald Tilleman
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Colorful bridge_©Ronald Tilleman
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Colorful bridge_©Ronald Tilleman
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Colorful bridge_©Ronald Tilleman

Sustainability and Environment Relations

In the Princess Máxima Centre for Child Oncology, where both physical and psychological healing is aimed, it is aimed to improve the feeling of environmental factors in the interior. Semi-open and open spaces created by increasing the efficiency of sunlight by natural means, providing natural ventilation, and environmental control apart from active air conditioning systems contribute to the feeling of the natural climate. The strong relationship that the building establishes with the environment eliminates the feeling that the users are in an artificial and single-functional structure.

The spatial sustainability of the Princess Máxima Centre for Child Oncology is another important issue. Flexible room plans allow changes in line with needs and contribute to the sustainability of the building’s usage time and scenario. Designed as a quality living space for users in the disease process, the building also allows flexible possibilities and usage scenarios for visitors and researchers. Princess Máxima Centre for Child Oncology, which has interrelated functions, has been designed to adapt to changing scenarios, thus allowing functional and spatial sustainability at the forefront.

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Circulation area with skylight_©Ronald Tilleman
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Skylight for natural lightning_©Ronald Tilleman
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Green courtyard_©bplusb.nl

Reference List:

  1. LIAG Architecten van Geluk. (n.d.). Princess Máxima Centre. [online] Available at: https://www.liag.nl/en/projects/prinses-maxima-centrum-voor-kinderoncologie [Accessed 27 Oct. 2022].
  2. bplusb.nl. (n.d.). Princess Maxima Centre – B+B. [online] Available at: https://bplusb.nl/en/work/princes-maxima-center/ [Accessed 27 Oct. 2022].
  3. Architonic. (n.d.). Princess Máxima Centre for Paediatric Oncology by Vanceva | Manufacturer references. [online] Available at: https://www.architonic.com/en/project/vanceva-princess-maxima-center-for-pediatric-oncology/20033452 [Accessed 27 Oct. 2022].
Author

A graduate student who sees architecture as a way to think critically. Using her architectural background, she aims to draw attention to the ways of existing with the earth, not against earth with her writings. She believes that critical thinking will open different doors to both people and the world.

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