Erasmus Medisch Centrum in Rotterdam is laying the groundwork for the future. Preparations are in full swing. By 2015 Erasmus MC will have undergone a compre-hensive overhaul. From its premises near the entrance to the tunnel under the river Maas, this university medical centre will provide patient care, medical training and scientific research.
In Rotterdam there is broad consensus that care, and university hospital care in particular, should be offered at a single location. The oncology department (Daniël den Hoed) is located at another site in the southern part of the city. In addition, the existing hospital buildings no longer meet today’s standards. Erasmus MC made a conscious decision to remain at its current location in the centre of Rotterdam. The surrounding area, patient care, training programmes and research will be affected during the construction phase, so disruption must be minimized.
The master plan for the new construction sets out the overall layout of the complex and emphasizes the integration of Erasmus MC into the urban context. Its location in the city centre makes the medical centre visible, accessible and recognizable to residents of Rotterdam and the region.
‘Erasmus is going to be the world’s largest drive-in hospital’, according to Professor Bas Molenaar of EGM architecten. ‘The metro stops at the door, there are several good bus and tram connections and the large parking garage will have a transparent structure with glass walls, which will ensure a high level of visible activity.’ For the ten thousand people who work there and the tens of thousands of visitors, the building is quickly and readily accessible.
In the new-build areas, care will be organized around six recognizable themes, with patients and processes at the centre. Molenaar: ‘Virtually all facilities for out-patient, clinical and diagnostic procedures and patient treatment in the theme will be situated within that distinct unit.’
The patient themes are Brain & senses/ Oncology/ Immunology, Metabolism & Ageing/Acute care & Locomotion/Circulation and Growth,
Development & Reproduction. Grouping specializations into themes according to specific categories of patient, disease and care increases contact between doctors and researchers and fosters interaction between fundamental research, patient-related research and patient care. At the heart of each theme is a large light-flooded, airy atrium and a spacious green roof garden. Bas Molenaar: ‘The atriums are a
healing environment – a pleasant, healthy, safe environment. These three factors contribute to patient recovery and the well-being of hospital staff.’ The new construction will be more compact than the current buildings.
Priorities are fitting the complex into the urban fabric, the accessibility of the complex and the design of the public spaces. The squares,
boulevards and lanes in this medical city will spill over into the city centre in a logical fashion. ‘On the north side there will be an arcade with a covered drive-up zone and commercial and public functions along the perimeter.’
Priorities are fitting the complex into the urban fabric, accessibility, and the design of the public spaces. The squares, boulevards and avenues in this medical city will merge into the city centre in a logical fashion. ‘On the north side there will be an arcade with a covered drive-up zone
and commercial and public functions along the perimeter.’
Molenaar’s idea of combining the rehabilitation complex with a sports complex is unique. ‘Illness, health and sport belong together.
Rehabilitation has always been kept separate from sport as recreation. Why can’t a fitness centre provide both? There is really no difference between rehabilitation and fitness.’
Molenaar, former professor of Architectural Design and Health Care at Eindhoven University of Technology, put the matter to his students and gave them an assignment. They produced eleven fascinating plans. The board of the hospital is going to look at whether the idea is practicable and if so to what extent.
Erasmus MC faces the challenge of erecting tall buildings amid existing structures where sick patients are being treated and nursed, medical personnel are being trained and scientific research is being conducted. An example for others? Molenaar: ‘A lot is happening in the construction of healthcare facilities in Europe. Great Britain is working hard to catch up. France and Germany are building at a prodigious rate. The Nordic countries take an integrated approach that is similar to ours. But Rotterdam is going its own way.’