Building J on the Antwerp University Hospital campus in Edegem is unique because not the University Hospital itself but SGS CPU uses 5/6 of the space as a clinical research centre, and Red Cross Flanders uses the remaining space as a donor centre. The horizontal concept – basement + 3 storeys – illustrates our vision on health care buildings. Hospital patients want to see their problems resolved as quickly and correctly as possible. Grouping functions on one floor helps with this.

Because functions in health and research buildings evolve over time, this concept by SVR-Architects is also future-proof. Obstacles that can compromise the flexible (re)arrangement of the spaces in the building wings – stairs, lifts and shafts – are grouped in the central part that connects the two wings. In addition, 14.4 x 14.4 m modules without central columns and beams ensure a smoother installation of technical piping and ducts in the ceiling and a reduced building height, which also lowers the construction cost. The facade materials – ceramic tiles with open joints and dark aluminium bands between the windows – are maintenance-friendly and easy to replace or reuse.

Many health care buildings have an uninviting, clinical appearance. Here the threshold was lowered by cladding the plinth of the building with wood, paying great attention to the landscaping, and providing south-facing terraces on all floors.

For SGS CPU, a homely atmosphere is even more important for research into the effects of new medicines and therapies on people. Study participants reside there for periods varying from a few days to a month, and in some cases are also not allowed to have contact with other participants. Therefore we opted for maximum daylight incidence combined with atmospheric artificial light and natural, warm and soothing materials, textures and colours.

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