a healing environment

Princess Máxima Center, Utrecht

The Princess Máxima Center seamlessly integrates care and research in pediatric oncology. Its architectural design is meticulously crafted to fully support the center's overarching goal of achieving a 100% cure rate while ensuring the highest quality of life for its patients. Within this structure, the boundaries between child care and research blend harmoniously, as do those between indoor and outdoor spaces. Furthermore, the design exudes an aura of optimism throughout the pediatric oncology center.

Photography: Ronald Tilleman, Sybren Lempsink, Ewout Huibers

Function:
hospital, research and auditorium

Client:
Princess Máxima Center

Location:
Utrecht

Year:
2018 (fase 1) - in ontwikkeling

Status:
in use

What does a children's hospital entail? How can an environment designed for the treatment of children, a place where no child wishes to be, still offer a sense of comfort? These were pivotal questions driving the design process. The edifice emanates a sense of 'optimism' and warmth, echoing the core mission of the Princess Máxima Center. Moreover, the architectural layout is child-centric: proportions are tailored to suit children's dimensions, and the color scheme is carefully chosen to positively impact the well-being of young patients. The fundamental aim was to cultivate a 'home' environment where they could fully embrace their childhood.

Radiating Optimism
The design of the Princess Máxima Center is instantly recognizable to children: the pristine white facade refers to the medical professionals' coats, while the colored, vertical bands symbolize the scientific research that (also) takes place here, such as DNA analysis. It makes the facade dynamic. This lively facade piques the curiosity of the young patients: the view changes constantly and depends on their position in relation to the building.

"The highly-modern building complex expresses itself right from the outside with a friendly and colourful facade. The rooms are arranged in a contemporary way and offer a separate area for parents that can be used for overnight stays, allowing them to be near to their children. An exemplary design, developed and executed with sensitivity and empathy."
Jury, German Design Award 2020

Healing Environment
A robust relationship exists between the interior and exterior of the building. Inside, there are numerous vistas overlooking the surrounding landscape, while outside, the landscape seems to merge with the building itself. For instance, each building boasts its own inner garden. Natural materials seamlessly blend into the interior design. Moreover, the center is bathed in natural light, allowing patients to experience the changing seasons, day-night rhythms, and weather fluctuations. This architectural approach actively promotes the healing journey of young patients.

Parent and Child Room
Even in the face of illness, a child's development persists. Hence, significant attention is directed towards both the child and the family throughout the design process. This led to the inception of a new concept for the center: the parent-child room with a balcony. A broad sliding door separates the children's and parents' rooms, enabling flexible use: during the day, it becomes an expansive living area, while at night, it provides privacy for both parents and child. This design seamlessly accommodates the everyday demands of family life.

"It had to be a pleasant building, a child-friendly environment, without being childish. A building that radiates optimism and in which you also want to give children an experience. That is why development-oriented care and the healing environment formed the basis of our design. The child's development must continue, even if they are unwell."
Thomas Bögl, LIAG architects + engineers

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