Our goal has always been to awaken a playful mood in a rigorous, complex hospital environment. A key decision concerning the Neonatal Care Unit project was to divide it into three circular areas that share the same entrance space, integrating them, but also creating small groups with emphasis on personal attention. This strategy has allowed us to have an efficient flow of people, avoiding corners and reducing the stress level in an emergency. It also helps parents in their transition into a daily life routine by providing ambiences that help them move away from a sense of institutional design. In the hospital we work with a complete immersion methodology. That gives us the opportunity to perceive the atmosphere that surrounds the place.
The 400m² project was made to receive 28 beds for the babies and two more “kangaroo” beds, where mothers are able to stay with their children 24 hours. The moms who cannot stay at the hospital are able to nurture them whenever they want to. This facility also allows for self-sufficiency, independence and freedom of choice.
The Neonatal Care Unit was designed with three circular areas to accommodate the babies in different stages. The first area is meant for the babies who need to gain weight; in the second area, we have the babies with intermediary pathologies; and in the third area the babies who need special care.
The main concept of the project was to provide better flow to the small circular areas by avoiding corners. The walls are curved providing more spatial and visual permeability. From any spot in the room it is possible to visualize the babies, assuring the “little patients” safety.
The level of care provided in an environment like this is fundamentally different from that in a traditional hospital setting. An advantage for the patients and parents is that recovery takes place in small groups with emphasis on personal attention. That raises motivation levels and brings about a sense of security.
The layout of the new Neonatal Care Unit has also been designed for nurses to walk the shortest distance between the babies' beds and also have an easy view between the different nurseries. In case of emergency, the flow is facilitated by the layout. Visitors can walk around the nursery; doctors and nurses have a direct flow through the nurseries.
We turn our gaze to the sensitivity of color uses, light intensities, temperature variation; as well as, supporting orientation and way-finding system, and constant interaction of our bodies and movements within the environment in the architectural experience.
The most important aim of our architecture is the creation of an atmosphere in the building that helps the patient to recover as quickly as possible and to make their stay as pleasant as possible. We believe that the architecture can reduce the stress-levels, as well as medical errors and hospital infections.
The Neonatal Care Unit is an example of the main concepts that guide our way of conceiving Architecture and Healthcare design. Even with all the technology, a human design will always be our challenge.
1. Corian – Countertops – Dupont