International Design Competition

Urban concept

The horticultural research station, grown out of Rudolf Palocsay’s flower garden and orchard, has become synonymous in popular memory with a vast, seemingly boundless green area right on the edge of the city. It is a place of exceptionally strong identity and emotional value, entire generations having their memories connected to it. Even in our present day it is still a largely uninterrupted plantation with the vocation of a green lung embracing the city from the south-east. The project capitalizes on this potential, turning the site into a crucial stepping-stone in the future metropolitan park-system and blue-green network linking neighbourhoods on the one hand, and the East Park, the future green system of Sopor, Detunata Park, the horticultural research station, and the future Becas and Borhanci parks on the other hand.

This potential park system, with important ecological and soft mobility connections, is fundamentally structured by the Becas creek and its affluents, that have witnessed an increasing encroachment by the surrounding urban development in the last period. The time is now to give back space to the river-system, providing ecological continuity, buffer areas for flood management where excess water can expand before being slowly discharged downstream. On the other hand, the higher grounds are accentuated and consolidated, providing a noise and visual barrier towards the belt-road, thus creating a secluded park.


On an urban level, the project discourages the further building of ensembles on the site of the horticultural research station, in order to allow an opening in the future development-corridor along the belt-road, maintaining the open and green character of the area. Thus, we propose a closed, clearly defined shape that essentially becomes an autonomous PARK PAVILION. Additionally, a few smaller side-pavilions complete the open medical campus. These can host a hotel, a research cluster, restaurants, a kindergarten or medical student dorms.


Several distinct landscapes emerge through the project:

  • The valley renaturation along the Becas creeks recovers some of the negative effects of the future belt-road by giving generous space for nature and soft mobility.
  • The earth ridge proposed along the belt-road will be colonised by a dense forest.
  • The resulting park in-between these two features inherit the heritage of the cultural landscape of the site, being planted with a grid of trees, evocative of the orchard.
  • The earth mounds around the building introduce a new ingredient to the orchard, with a rich diversity of spatial conditions dominated by the lush garden.
  • Finally, the inner garden provides a world of its own, secluded from the buzz of the city.

Architectural concept – LIVING IN THE PAVILION

From the onset, we embarked on this project by placing centre stage the experience of the child patient. The scale of the building, its materiality and durability, its serenity and individuality, its intimate relation to the landscape and its clarity of use, all coalesce to create the premises for a healthy recovery of children. The architecture of the facades offers a domestic feel. The simple geometric shapes of the structural elements on the building’s contour help create visual identification and orientation, while relating to the children’s imaginary and curiosity. The continuous but shifting profile of the building along its loop, dissimulates its size and offers an altered perception to the viewer, making it seem smaller than it is. The generous windows over the entire length of the façade, combined with the inner courtyards offer a direct connection to the outside and bring the natural light deep in the building. The access to the secluded gardens is facilitated from supervised entry areas of the wards on the 1st and 3rd floor. Thus, nature is never further than one floor away for the children.

On the inside, the spaces are varied and recognizable. The ward corridors are dotted with pocket-gardens and loggias, bringing natural light in the middle parts of the ribbon. The different sectors, wards and other areas of the hospital are distinguished by a chromatic code, that leads patients, visitors and staff from the entrances all the way to the out-patient units and the wards.

Sustainable concept – THE BREATHER

The design of this hospital building and medical campus is targeting to achieve BREEAM Outstanding status. Mobility alternatives are provided for the access: public transport and taxi drop-off in front of the main entrance, seamless access for bicycles and 80% parking underground for cars. The project also aims for a carbon-neutral approach, by the extensive planting of trees, a compact and well insulated volume, a particular care for natural light, as well as a generous solar farm on the roof.

For the control of interior environment all patient room windows will be equipped with mobile blinds in front of them. The Façade system also provides deep shaders through its exterior slabs, reducing direct radiation throughout the day.

Last but not least, the strategy at the urban level scores favourably by tackling the flood risk management on the larger scale.

Functional concept – THE TRIPOD AND THE LOOP

The looped shape creates the premises for flexible use over time, with multiple access points and interconnections. The ground floor provides a compact base with short routes between key functional groups. The wards being aligned in a closed loop warrant the possibility to reconfigure and adapt their capacity over time and also to unpredictable medical scenarios. The hospital’s overall capacity can further be increased if needed within the same volume, by closing the rooftop gardens on the 3rd floor. Moreover, the imaging department and operating theatres can expand downwards, by refunctioning specific parts of the basement.

Access points are provided in different places for different approaches:

  • By car
    • Basement: patients, visitors, staff, supplies, morgue, pharmacy
    • Ground floor: patients, visitors (main entrance drop-off), ambulances at Emergency Unit (EU)
  • By foot
    • Basement: medical/auxiliary/administrative staff, research & education, maintenance
    • Ground floor: patients, visitors, distinct alternative accesses to: EU, infectious diseases, ICU, burn centre and physiotherapy.
  • By air: on the rooftop heliport, with direct connection to EU.

For easy access of the out-patient unit it is located entirely on the ground floor with clear direct access from the main lobby. Similarly for direct functional connection between the emergency unit, imaging, operating theatres, ICU and burnt centre, all of these are located entirely on the ground floor and with dedicated staircases to the most intensely connected wards: surgery, orthopaedics, neurology and nephrology. Rehabilitation is located above the physiotherapy unit. 

All circulations are divided in 3 clearly defined categories: out-patients/visitors, in-patients and medical staff, and auxiliary medical and service staff. From the main lobby out-patients and visitors can access all cabinets of the out-patient unit and imaging, or they can ascend to the wards on the 4 main vertical nodes, that contain but keep separate public, staff and supply routes. A separate access is provided for the imaging unit for in-patients and patients for the emergency unit. The medical and auxiliary staff has horizontal and vertical circuits starting from the basement on a circular path, completely separated from the public access points and always between care units, without crossing any of them.



STATUS: competition 

LOCATION: Cluj-Napoca (RO)

YEAR: 2021

CO-AUTHORS: Atelier de Proiectare Bența, Metapolis Architects 

COLLABORATORS: Panaite Cristian, Svinți Ivona, Virág Jácint – structures, Pop Adrian – BREEAM