The Wilhelmina Children's Hospital, part of the University Medical Centre Utrecht, is a top clinical hospital for children from all over the country. It stands out because of the specific design and use of color and materials, focussing on the imagination and experience of the children.View the entire project
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Because everyone deserves the best care, the Wilhelmina Children's Hospital (WKZ) constantly raises the bar. With innovative treatments with the ultimate goal of makingand keeping children healthy. In the WKZ every child is first of all a child. The environment therefor is explicitly part of the treatment. In the design, the experience of the child is taken into account everywhere: from the children's theatre café to the reception desks that resembles Captain Nemo's submarine. The new WKZ has an academic function with a local, regional and national mission and is part of the University Medical Centre in Utrecht.
The brief for the new construction of the Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital (WKZ) in Utrecht focused on the creation of a top level clinical hospital for children and young people. On the one hand the design is governed by the patterns of the surrounding area such as the morphology of the landscape, existing alignment and orthogonal structure. On the other hand, the design manifests itself with a totally individual architecture, which is conveyed not only in the layout, formation/connection and shape of the building volumes, but also in the choice of materials and colours.
In addition to the main building, the design incorporates five building sections linked together by a central hall. The curved western section, referred to as the ‘boomerang’, houses the wards close to the entrance and the poli-psychiatry department (PSA), restaurant and several service areas on the ground floor.
The interior of the building reflects its nature and purpose as demonstrated by the central hall and ‘poli-promenade’, elements that make the connection between the various building volumes with their own specific individual functions and structures. The central hall is a busy thoroughfare - a meeting place and entrance for visitors with bridges to provide a link between the individual buildings. The ‘boomerang’ section is constructed using richly textured, grey stonework and wooden casings.
The building block near the entrance has been tiled using pastel coloured tiles. On the east side the functional building sections are faced with aluminium profiles with horizontal window strips. The primary colour accents in the end walls are repeated in the column covers in the window strips in the side walls. The extended north-south block (the backbone) consists of a lined concrete skeleton that features a range of different wooden fronts. The materials and colours on the outside of the complex are utilitarian and rough but moving inside the appearance becomes softer and more welcoming, right up to the central hall – the heart of the hospital.
One of the key design principles related to the fact that the building had to be child friendly. A playground has been installed on the roof and rooms for patients have been equipped with large glass fronts on the side of the corridor to ensure that children don’t feel isolated. The single rooms are equipped with built-in guest beds so that parents can stay with their children day and night. A children’s theatre provides creative entertainment and the hospital school runs a specially adapted learning programme.