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An urban health campus

The Gasthuisberg hospital campus was originally designed in the 70s, based on a “dendritic” plan to incorporate future extensions. By the end of the 90s, the hospital had become an institutionalised machine, suffering from long distances between units, functions that were too mixed and no longer rationally connected within the campus. In 2002, a global master plan (designed by awg architecten) aimed to restructure the hospital into a “Health Science Campus” by introducing the idea of urban life on campus, and creating a network of city-style blocks connected by public spaces.

Continuing with this logic, we have created for the Leven University Hospital (UZ Leuven) autonomous “architectural objects”, with their own language and expression. Representing nearly 200,000 m² of transformations and new constructions carried out on the active campus, the buildings are all individually accessible and linked by bridges, in response to the principle of campus organisation.

All projects designed by archipelago on the Gasthuisberg campus
The new Woman-Mother-Child hub opened in 2018

State of the art hospital hubs

With over 1,500 beds, UZ Leuven is the largest hospital in Belgium. Recognised across Europe for its expertise and the quality of its university research, the hospital integrates the latest technological and medical innovations to best serve the patient. With this in mind, we have designed an efficient Critical Services hub (37,000 m²) bringing together acute services such as emergencies and intensive care. We also developed a Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) on the principle of “ribbon design” which facilitates access for parents without interfering with the staff’s work space.

We designed the Woman-Mother-Child hub (38,000 m²) and the proton therapy centre (4,500 m²) to prioritise the patient’s experience and to provide maximum natural light. These two high-tech infrastructures opened in 2018. The hospital logistics platform (25,000 m², under construction) will bring together all the supply and production areas of the campus following organisational principles borrowed from industry.

A fruitful and sustainable collaboration

After more than two decades of fruitful collaboration between UZ Leuven technical service teams and the architects from archipelago, the projects brought to life on the Gasthuisberg site represent many different functions and configurations: in addition to the hospital and logistics hubs we have designed an underground car park, a data centre and an outpatient surgical centre.

A variety of projects that all face the same challenge: running active projects on a working hospital site is particularly complex and involves significant risks. The success of this unique challenge is therefore completely dependent on close collaboration and responsiveness at all times. We guarantee our availability and commitment to this.

Conducting work on a busy hospital site is unusually complex and involves significant risks. The success of this project was entirely dependent on the close collaboration and responsiveness of everyone involved.

Filip Deschryver ir. architect, partner

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