OBR Children's Hostpital

OBR Children's Hospital as Rainbow Architecture

The design for the Children’s Hospital “Pietro Barilla” in Parma, completed in January 2013, was inspired by the criteria of humanisation and environmental psychology, reflecting the wishes of medical staff to create a place “designed around the children”, which was to be as homely as possible for the young patients. As a consequence, the design synthesises health and functional needs with perceptual and psychological topics.

The double-skin façade becomes the architectural device that allows the interaction between the children and the environment. It was designed to create a visual relationship between the building and its surroundings and enhance the patients’ perception of natural phenomena - the sun moving as the hours of the day pass, the colour of the leaves changing with the seasons. The external layer of the façade, made of coloured vertical fins as well as transparent single glazing, reflects the surrounding context on the new hospital whilst creating a buffer zone which allows natural ventilation, improving indoor climate and reducing use of energy. The colours chosen for the façade recall the chromatic palette of the natural and urban context surrounding the building.

According to the movement of the observer, the colours cross-fade dynamically, providing an ever-changing appearance to the façade. The patient rooms are designed to re-create a familiar environment for the children who temporarily live in the hospital and allow for views to the surrounding gardens. The internal spaces – in particular patients’ rooms and common areas – have been positioned in order to open up internal views to the surrounding landscape and allowing natural light to penetrate into the building, thus facilitating the orientation of patients and visitors within the hospital. At ground floor, the lobby is designed to be extended into the gardens, as well as fragments of landscape are inserted into the building at the upper levels, further enhancing the relationship between the architecture and the landscape. The architecture becomes an active interpreter of a great process of innovation in healthcare design, searching for a positive effect on the day-to-day life of the children, their families, the staff and all the “inhabitants” of the new hospital. 

Studio: OBR

Photo Credits: Mariela Apollonio



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