Architecture that focuses on sensory experience and perception.
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The North Holland Eye Centre has grown strongly in recent years and will see a rise in demand for ophthalmic care in the coming years. The centre focuses increasingly on extremely specialist eye care. That prompted the centre to realize a new building within the station area in Heerhugowaard. The eye centre is expected to open in the summer of 2019.
After an architect selection process organized by the North Holland Eye Centre in collaboration with Building for Tomorrow, EGM architects started work on the project in 2017. Important aspects determined in the vision document that still applies today are connecting nature and greenery to care services, supporting the sustainability ambition, which is why the WELL Building Standard is followed, and encouraging healthy use and healthy behaviour when the building is occupied.
The sensory quality of architecture is a cornerstone of the design for the eye centre. The pavilion is both visually attractive and functionally efficient, and the design pays particular attention to the needs of visually impaired people. That is why a significant element of the design is the use of materials that differ in tactility and acoustic quality, as well as in colour.
Sound, feeling and perception are of crucial important to both visitors and staff in allowing the building to function optimally. This importance is enhanced for people with limited vision. The entrance hall sounds different to the consultation rooms, reception desks feel inviting and warm, and contrasts are emphasized to mark the transitions from floor to wall to ceiling and hence to define spaces and improve orientation. In the patio, which is open to everybody, the scent of nature and the powerful colour of flourishing greenery dominate.
The spacious and bright patio forms the green heart of the eye centre. Grouped around the patio are the reception areas, which in turn are surrounded by spaces for consultation, treatment and examination. The two-floor structure is finished in a white-plastered envelope that contains numerous tall openings. That gives the facade a friendly and fresh appearance. Openings vary in rhythm in response to the type of space and the need for different levels of daylight. Marking the entrance at the tip of the pavilion is a glazed wall almost ten metres in height, which extends a welcome and clear invitation to enter the building. Owing in part to sustainability considerations, the building is highly compact in shape, with its rounded forms inside and outside creating a pleasant and friendly appearance.
The open facade makes the entrance clearly recognizable from the car park. The entrance, just like the rest of the interior, features contrasts in materials and textures to create an optimal visual effect. The warm, curved timber finish contrasts strongly with the clean white exterior. The facade finish makes a subtle reference to the function of the centre, with the plaster featuring the imprints of the symbols of the Landolt C Eye Chart.
From the entrance to the operating rooms, the building is clearly organized. Spaces vary from lively to calm and from public to intimate. Patients, visitors and staff enter the building through the same easily accessible door. Even the car park beneath the building, built at ground level but concealed behind the sloping green bank, connects with the entrance hall. The entrance offers direct access to the care services on both floors, where visitors reach an oasis of light, nature and calm.
All workspaces connect directly to the corridor around the patio, which features a fully transparent glass partition wall. This green heart not only draws plenty of daylight into the building, creating an open and bright atmosphere, but also creates clear orientation. Most consultation and examination rooms are located on the first floor. The office areas and the operating complex are located one level above, dominated by a sense of calmness and privacy. With this striking pavilion, the North Holland Eye Centre will strengthen its leading position as a provider of ophthalmic care in the region.