The balance between the technical stringencies of a medical flow and the need to humanize spaces

Extension of Children Clinical Emergency Hospital Marie Curie

Raluca Șoaita, architect, has designed the first Pediatric Oncology and Radiotherapy Hospital in Romania, build by Dăruiește Viață Association in Marie Curie Hospital’s courtyard in Bucharest. Compound of the same team, Raluca also designed the new modular hospital in Elias’ Hospital courtyard, for COVID-19 patients, currently being built. Raluca is the founder of Tesseract studio and has over 10 years experience in her work with the medical programme.

What is the status of the modular hospital in Elias’ courtyard? What architectural efforts did its building involve?

The designing phase is now completed. There was a tremendous amount of work which the team handled very well, considering the tight building deadline.

At the worksite things have started to move for about a week now. The terrain got prepaired, the water and sewage pipelines were installed and the team cast the isolated foundations fo the metalic base structure of the containers. Also, the concrete platform for the oxygen tank was completed and the anexes for the medical gases instalations are ready – given the specific function of the hospital:the treatment of critical COVID-19 cases that might require intubation.

This week the containers will be shipped and fitted on the base metalic structure and after them, the interior and exterior HVAC instalations, finishing and of course, the furnishing the hospital.

The big challenge was to find a working land lot and the optimal disposition scheme, within, of course, many limitations that had to be taken into account. On one side we needed enough space for a modular hospital that has aproximately 1200 sqms in addition to all the technical platforms and the storage tents. On the other side, Elias’ Hospital courtyard has varying elevation oscilations and also we did our best to preserve the green area as much as possible, so that all interventions are reversible and not too expensive. The isolated foundations and the metalic base frame are the wisest choice here.

Also, working under deadlines pressure in this emergency state, we had to quicly adapt the medical stringencies to the terrain and to the existing suppliers material reserves.

What are the specifics of a medical project compared to other categories of projects?

For a medical project you always have to find the balance between the technical stringencies of a medical flow and the need to humanize spaces. After all, these spaces are being built for humans (patients, belongings, doctors, nurses and so on), to be used in one of the most difficult times of their lives. After years of solving the functionality puzzles of correctly and efficiently working hospitals, today we can dedicate more time into researching the daily users of these spaces. Alongside with anthropologists we’ve “lived” in hospital wards, we’ve analized and covered the routes of both patients and medical staff, we’ve understood their needs in some key aspects of using the space so that we can adapt our architectural design both functionally and emotionally.

What does a public or private medical project developer expect from an architect?

There are many disparities between the public and private sectors, especially regarding the financial aspects. The private investors used to look after resource optimization and cost reducing alternatives so that the whole hospital building investment would be at its minimum.

Today we are being asked for the same optimizations for many public hospitals projects.

Also, there is a general expectation regarding all specialities project management so that errors and error generated costs are reduced to the minimum. As such, I think it would be impossible for us to design a medicat programme project without the use of BIM software.

It also happens that first time investers that are running their first project often expect more from us than we could possibly do. But we usually live up to the challenges and we get the job done. Sometimes we are invited to work on the draft theme and sometimes we even work on the project from a business-wise perspective.

Arch. Raluca Șoaita was a speaker and guest at the 2019 International Building Health Forum. The sixth edition will take place in the Novotel Hotel, Bucharest, during the Romanian Hospitals Convention.