"Pietro Barilla" Parma Children's Hospital
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"Pietro Barilla" Parma Children's Hospital

Obr Open Building Research

"Pietro Barilla" Parma Children's Hospital
By Francesco Pagliari -

Like any hospital, the new facility for children and adolescents in Parma, northern Italy, is a complex mix of professional skills. The architectural concept of this innovative, technologically advanced structure serves an environment where the best treatment offered by modern science may be delivered in the most people-friendly setting. The programme sets out to meet the requirements of all users: young patients, their families and staff. The apparently simple geometry hides a complex architecture geared to overall occupant wellbeing by pooling architectural, technological, medical and psychological excellence. Spaces and environments have been designed to enhance a sense of wellbeing. The architectural programme provides easy-to-read distribution pathways, and ensures that wherever possible artificial light is integrated by natural daylighting – a key factor contributing to our spatial, temporal and psychological orientation. A glazed inner court allows natural light to penetrate deep into the building. Elegant pedestrian bridges cross the inner court; the waiting rooms and patient wards are aesthetically pleasing and comfortable. As well as creating a welcoming atmosphere, the colours of the various environments, furnishings and walls are also used to signpost and identify the different areas. Finishing materials - ranging from timber to porcelain stoneware - differ with the particular environment’s specific functions and frequency of use. Acoustic comfort was also a major prerequisite, a feature that goes hand in hand with an integrated concept of what a period in hospital represents for children, and which differs for short- or long-term patients. All wards, however, have views onto the outside. Ample space has been set aside to allow children to play. As well as the dedicated play areas, each ward and medical office has a play corner. In addition, the wards and visiting rooms have been designed to allow young patients to remain in constant visual contact with their parents, a major element in helping to alleviate emotional stress.
The new building has four above grade and one below grade storeys. There are two main entrances, one of which for emergencies. The facility also has medical laboratories and areas dedicated to scientific research. On each floor, the wards are interspersed by a sequence of waiting rooms, play and study areas. Plant and equipment are located below ground and on the top floor. The ground floor houses the hospital reception and diagnostic section. The first floor is dedicated to blood diseases while the second floor is given over to intensive neonatal care and surgery. The third floor hosts a series of specialist disciplines.
The building's façade sums up the concept of occupant comfort and dialogue with the exterior. The inner envelope provides excellent thermal installation while the outer skin is an urban landmark. The building stands out for its coloured vertical side strips, varying luminosity during the day, and the reflections on the glazed slabs that change with the position of the viewer and dematerialise the building’s volume. By setting up an intimate relationship between interior and exterior, the architecture prompts many deeper sensations: the notion of the passing of time as the filtered light changes in intensity during the day, and a sense of place conveyed by an environment framed by the natural world outside.

Francesco Pagliari

Location: Parma
Client: Fondazione Ospedale dei Bambini di Parma
Completion: 2013
Gross Floor Area: 14.000 m2
Cost of Construction: 32.000.000 Euros 
Architectural Project: Policreo e OBR 
Coordinatore e Responsabile della Progettazione e della Direzione Architettonica e Artistica dei Lavori e degli Arredi: Sergio Beccarelli
Structural Project: Policreo
Responsabile della Progettazione e della Direzione Strutturale dei Lavori: Pier Paolo Corchia
Progetto Impianti Elettrici, Speciali e Dati: Luciano Zanni
Progetto Impianti Meccanici: Ubaldo Nocera e Filippo Borrini
Progetto Integrato degli Arredi e delle Finiture: Policreo Arch. Sergio Beccarelli
Works Managementi: Stefano Soncini
Project Management: Luigi Pezzoli
Construction Management: Impresa Pizzarotti

Consulenza Psicologica Ambientale e Psicologica dell’Età Evolutiva: Giuseppe Virciglio
Consulenza Sound Design: Alessandro Carlo Bertetti
Consulenza Light Design: Paolo Bertozzi
Studio Geologico-Geotecnico: Carlo Caleffi
Studio Acustico e Progetto Sicurezza: Studio QSA- Gabriella Magri

Installations: Clivet, TCF, Roccheggiani, FCR
Roofing and Waterproofing: Alubel, Marcegaglia, Derbigum, Seic (Harbo)
Façades and External Doors: Metra, Trespa
Flooring: Tarkett
Fire-Resistant Glazed Doors: Euroedil
Interior Doors: Fosam, Celegon
Interior Partitions, False Ceilings, Façades (Dry Laminated): Global Building, Celenit, Dupont, Gyproc, Armstrong
Screeds, Floors, Ceramic Finishes, Façades: Poroton, Grigolin, Leca, Cotto D’Este

Photography: © Mariela Apollonio 

OBR Open Building Research
OBR Open Building Research was established in 2000 to investigate new ways of contemporary living, creating a design network between Genoa and London, further extended to Mumbai and Accra.
The team of OBR develops its experimental line through the participation in projects involved in public-private social programmes. Their research is focused on urban design promoting - through architecture - the sense of community and individual identities.
The founding partners Paolo Brescia and Tommaso Principi worked together with Renzo Piano. They link their professional experience with the academic world as guest lecturers and professors in European an Asian University.
OBR’s projects have been featured in international exhibitions, including at 10th Biennale di Venezia (2006), Architecture: Where to, London (2007), V Bienal de Arquitetura in Brasilia (2007), AR Award in Berlin, Budapest and Seoul (2008), Shanghai International Expo (2010), UIA in Tokyo (2011), Energy at MAXXI in Rome (2013) and Piccole Utopie at Tongji University in Shanghai (2013).
OBR has been awarded with AR Awards honourable mention for Emerging Architecture at the RIBA Royal Institute of British Architects in London (2007), Plusform award for Best architecture realised by young architect under 40 (2008), Urbanpromo by INU Istituto Nazionale Urbanistica (2008), Gold Medal finalist for Italian Architecture at Triennale di Milano (2009), Europe 40 Under 40 in Madrid (2010), Ance premium in Rome for the best completed project in Italy (2011), Leaf Award overall winner in London (2011), WAN Award Residential in London (2011), Green Good Design Award in Chicago (2012) and Ad’A Award for Italian Architecture (2013).

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