DESIGN REMOVES BARRIERS,
Balgrist University Hospital R&D facility challenges
convention and encourages collaboration
Balgrist University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland, is a global center of excellence in the assessment, treatment, and care of people with musculoskeletal injuries. In 2011, led by Medical Director and Head of Surgery Prof. Dr. Christian
Gerber, the hospital broke ground on a new research facility that would
strengthen its ability to develop new treatment methods.
Prof. Gerber’s vision was to establish Balgrist Campus, as the
building is now known, with the goal of becoming Europe’s premier R&D
facility for musculoskeletal issues by 2020. Swiss-based architectural
firm Nissen Wentzlaff Architekten (NWA) was selected from among 50
other firms to design and manage construction of the new facility.
A RADICAL APPROACH
With construction completed in late 2015, the building is now fully
occupied. The hospital uses approximately half the space; technical
university ETH Zurich, the University of Zurich, and several industrial
firms use the rest. According to Daniel Wentzlaff, NWA’s Head Architect
and Cofounder, the building’s unique open-concept design fosters
collaboration between researchers, doctors, industry, students, and
patients. “In the initial brief, it was strongly emphasized that barriers
between disciplines should be dissolved so that the cancer group, for
instance, could work more closely with the group for bone fractures,”
explains Wentzlaff. “After giving the request a lot of thought, we
proposed a radical approach.”
In a typical setting the building would be divided by territory. A
research professor, for example, would typically negotiate a certain
amount of space for research equipment, offices, and staff. At Balgrist
Campus, however, NWA proposed that floor space should be allocated
by activities, not personal territory.
This means that wet labs are on the lower levels, open-environment
offices are on the center levels, and dry labs are on the top levels.
Professors and students of all disciplines work desk-by-desk in the open
office and move through the building depending on their current needs
and activities. “I don’t think there are any other research institutions in
Switzerland with a comparable space allocation,” says Daniel.
International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering,
www.ispe.org. All rights reserved.