University Psychiatric Centre Gasthuisberg
The psychiatry building of KU Leuven’s University Psychiatric Centre is part of AWG Architects’ master-plan for the further development of the UZ Gasthuisberg campus. It is structured around an internal patio. The exentrically position allows the creation of different sections for large therapy rooms and for smaller spaces.
The master-plan sets out measures to create an urban context, which include creating density and differentiation in the public space, and building a diverse range of streets and squares. This will enable the open ‘green’ zones around the site to be safeguarded.
The entire site is surrounded by a new ring-road, and a number of ‘main streets’ run through the site to create structure. The psychiatry building, designed by Stéphane Beel Architects, is located on the edge of this master-plan zone, in between the ring-road, the green zone and one of the main streets. The master-plan allows for a building volume of five storeys.
The patio has been developed as a ‘therapeutic landscape’. This ‘landscape’ is connected to every floor, so that patients can reach their therapy areas by passing through it. At the same time, it is a place for relaxation and informal contact between patients, visitors and healthcare professionals. On the third floor, this ‘therapeutic landscape’ culminates in a spacious terrace, which connects to the sports hall. From here, patients have a view out over the green zone and Leuven city centre.
The central patio is covered with a sliding greenhouse roof, which creates a tempered outdoor climate. This increases its potential uses, as well as having a positive effect on energy consumption.
On the ground floor, adjacent to the main street, are the public functions: the reception area, consultation rooms, training and administration rooms. On the first, second and third floors are the hospitalisation units, together with their respective therapy areas. For structural reasons, the double-height sports hall is located on the top floor.
Much thought has gone into choosing the right materials and decoration. Perforated glazed bricks and acoustically absorbent floors and ceilings have been used to create an acoustically pleasant environment. More specifically, the rubber tiles chosen for the patio floor meet both acoustic and other requirements (safety, look and feel, etc.).
Look and feel studies were carried out for the entire interior decoration. A lively colour palette was created to complement the champagne-coloured woodwork and it is by no means sterile. Although this is a hospital, the idea is to create an environment that feels both homely and safe. Based on detailed research, a standard room was designed with a colourful sliding partition to conjure up a homely atmosphere.
The advisory role played by Stéphane Beel Architects in the choice of the free-standing furniture ensured that the look and feel was implemented to maximum effect, and has resulted in a harmonious whole.
Three oval green islands have been placed in the patio, which serve to bring it down to a more human scale. This design was created in collaboration with the garden architect Ludovic Devriendt.