Groot Klimmendaal Rehabilitation Centre

The rehabilitation centre is located in a forested area that forms part of a master plan that is also by Koen van Velsen. The plan envisages the area to be gradually transformed into a public park. Despite its size, the golden-brown anodised aluminium facade allows the nearly 14,000 m2 building to blend in with its natural surroundings. Nature has a strong visual and tangible presence. The meandering facade in the restaurant and the full-height glazing along the central space result in a building that stands in-between the trees and invites the forest inside the building. The idea behind the design was not to create a building with the appearance of a healthcare facility, but rather to create a building that would be part of its surroundings and the community. The arrangement of the programme is clear with offices below, the clinical areas on the floors above and a Ronald McDonald House on the roof level. The double-height ground floor contains the special elements of the programme such as a sports hall and gymnasium, swimming pool, restaurant and theatre. Not only patients but also members of the local community, including schools and theatre groups, use these facilities on a regular basis. As a result, both the patients and the building are placed at the centre of the community. The care concept is based on the idea that a positive and stimulating environment increases the well-being of patients and has a beneficial effect on their rehabilitation process. Transparency, continuity, layering, diversity and the experience of nature are all ingredients of this stimulating environment. A variety of large and small voids as well as light wells ensure spatial connections between the different levels and allow natural daylight deep into the heart of the 30-metre-wide building. Interplay of striking but subtle colours and direct and indirect lighting enlivens the interior. Sustainable materials requiring little maintenance were used for the floor finishes, ceilings and facade cladding, resulting in a building with a long lifespan that offers opportunities for different future uses and the accommodation of the inevitable transformations within the client’s organisation. The use of energy is reduced by the compact design of the building and the design of the mechanical and electrical installations, most notably the thermal (heat-and-cold) storage. Groot Klimmendaal is a coming together of both complexity and simplicity with attention for physical, practical and social details.