The project for the “Michele e Pietro Ferrero” Hospital is the result of a contest won in 1998 by a group of three architecture practices: Aymeric Zublena from Scau Architecture (Paris), Ugo and Paolo Dellapiana from Archicura (Turin) and Ugo Camerino (Venice). Construction works started in 2005. Then, because of economic crisis of 2008 and 2012, it took fifteen years to be accomplished.
Finally, in 2020, the Hospital is partially open and immediately operative, ready to face an epochal disease: the global pandemic of Covid-19.
The new complex is located in Verduno – Piedmont, Italy, outside the city center, on the north slope of the hill. The Hospital is going to substitute the two units of the cities of Alba and Bra.
The characterizing and innovative aspects of the new hospital are functionality, rationalization and optimization of resources, use of new healthcare technologies. The fusion of two hospitals – Alba and Bra- will take to an optimization of departmental activities with complete realization of clinic paths in the same building, in order to reduce the repetition of clinic assessment and, therefore, costs.
Total volume of intervention is of 396.000 cubic meters, divided into eleven levels, with about 110.000 square meters of floor area. Bed places are 350, mainly in single rooms.
There are twelve operating rooms, twelve intensive care beds, ten units of cardiac intensive therapy, ten emergency medicine units and one bunker for radiotherapy. A heliport connects the hospital with the regional hospital network.
The idea of the Hospital is based on the concept of “slab”, instead of monobloc system. Horizontal organization is the main characteristic of this system. In that way, the relation between each hospital ward is simplified. The evolution over time of configuration has been taken into account and it’s made possible by the simplicity of general layout and by the fact that natural light can easily penetrate each ward: in fact, the big “slab” is organized around wide gardens and patios.
This big “slab” is the base from which is possible to reach every part of the hospital: this simplicity is translated in an easy distribution and clear and short paths. The slab distribution with the recovery units above, reduces the internal paths by 70%.
General volume and the functional organization are composed by three main elements:
- The “slab”, where medical wards, clinics, surgical hospitalization units and radiotherapy are located;
- The “medical gallery”, a large space for reception that crosses the entire building from North to South, from which is possible to access the clinics and the majority of wards.
- The “supported body”, consisting of two linear buildings that host the medical specialties, recovery units and medical areas.
Specific paths have been dedicated to hospital employees only, in order to clearly divide the flows and keep patients and visitors on fixed areas and ways, specifically marked to simplify their movements inside the hospital. The exclusivity of the hospital workers and machines circulation – guaranteed in every department- is very important to avoid any kind of contamination between different flows. The importance of this aspect has been extensively demonstrated with the huge diffusion of the corona virus during the pandemic, when hospitals became place of infection, also because of chaotic layouts, in which flows of ill people, workers and visitors, were all mixed.
The complex is equipped with the most advanced technologies. Even if the original project is from 1998, it was adapted during years. Energetic class is A1 thanks to high performances windows, advanced wall stratigraphy, a photovoltaic system which provides 200 KW, a co-generation plant of 1.700 KW, condensing boilers of 16.000 KW, high performances recovery units of the ventilation system, LED lighting, use of BMS – building management system- for the building maintenance.
Design process has been carried out by following a big purpose: defense of human being and its integrity. Technology and efficiency are important, but they are not enough. Quality of medical service, attention to individuals and their needs are the focus of entire project. With this aim, every space and every path have been conceived. Design is made for the “humanization” of the project, which must be a safe place, without any sign of violence. The achievement of a space that must be friendly and domestic, with pleasant finishing, natural light and greenery all around.
For these reasons, many waiting rooms have been provided, all of them equipped with comfortable elements, located in sunny spaces. There are also many info-points, easy to find. There are common spaces where having contact with other people and private spaces with possibility to have privacy.
In hospitals people is often feel weak and is ask for help. Some architectural choices were made to help people feel relaxed and in a clean space. Soul wellness is, without any doubt, one of the greatest contributions to recovery. For example, taking advantage of the beautiful surroundings, windows are composed by two bands, one lower, in order to make the landscape visible also for people laying in bed. The simplicity of paths is also a way not to make people feel stressed.
Main entrance is completely covered with glass panels. This choice was made to let the exit -which is situated on the other side of the building- visible from the very first moment you enter the hospital. The sensation of clearness and hope, without any oppression, is what people should feel by entering in the hospital, both patients and employees.
Hospital is conceived to be the place for hope. Not only the building, but also the location chosen for the “Michele e Pietro Ferrero” hospital are fundamentals that create the exact place for the recovery of sick people, the place to feel comforted and also, the place to work.
All the works designed by Archicura, founded in Torino in 1994, seem somehow connected by an almost invisible thread, or even a common approach shared by Paolo Dellapiana and collaborators, who constantly present new, different and unexpected projects and results.
The constant focus of their attention is the emotional factor which every building can and should have towards its users. This is the key element that contributes to the physical and mental wellness that a construction should always provide. The path they have so far walked, and the meaningful experiences they have had, contributed to their architectural taste and hallowed them to grow without losing the enthusiasm they have for everything they design, whether they are urban projects or a micro scale.
Their motto is a quote by J.W.Von Goethe “Architecture is frozen music. It is what music would look like if we could see it”. This denotes a particular sensitivity, almost artistic in the way they approach this discipline.