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New Maasstad Hospital building

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With the Maasstad Hospital, the firm of architects Wiegerinck has succeeded in meeting the needs of the three groups of users. The patients experience the healing environment that -in addition to views and distraction- offers plenty of contact with the ward or, if desired, facilitates more privacy. Visitors can find their way easily thanks to the transparency of the design and the highly visible orientation points. The staff enjoy their modern work place, in which new approaches to work are possible.

The architect explains in depth how the specific construction method and design of Maasstad Hospital has 'stimulated the customer experience’ and what this actually meant for the design of the building. To unite transparency and fire safety, various fire-resistant glass applications have been used.

Paul Numan, architect with Wiegerinck architecture and urban development, talks about the design: it is a very large building on the edge of the south of Rotterdam, a city district with many ‘big city issues’. The programme, with 80,000 square metres, gave us the space to make a new part of the city.’
The floor plan for Maasstad Hospital shows a central axis with alternating wings and patios on both sides. The project director refers to the central hallway as the ‘Aorta’, the architect describes it as ‘Magisterial’; that a circulation area has a name of its own just goes to illustrate its importance. Numan clarifies the design: ‘We see the building as a ‘monolithic’ block. The higher layers have chunks cut out of them: the enclosed gardens or patios. But as a building, it’s a whole. An important aspect of our design is sustainability; this building has to be fit for a different purpose in the future if necessary.’
The construction of the pre-fab facade is another interesting feature of this building. The facade components have been built in a factory and installed in the carcass on site. Numan: ‘Only the frames were installed afterwards. The exterior of the frames is aluminium, as this is low maintenance. But the interior face of the frames is timber, as this gives a warmer appearance.’

Patients and visitors will quickly be able to find their way around the building. The central reception hall is in one of the patios. Facilities like a restaurant, pharmacy, crèche and blood test clinic transform this into a public area. Numan explains: ‘The transition from public to private is very gradual. The central hall is public, but gradually the spaces become more enclosed. The reception hall is illuminated by a glass roof. We didn’t want to increase the burden on the people visiting the hospital. The glass allows them to find their way quickly and easily.’
The Magisterial invests the entire building with a clear structure. Numan: ‘People don’t need to wander. The recognition points are clearly visible through the abundance of glass; every enclosed garden is different. Visitors only need remember at which ascension point they have to go up.’

The patients’ rooms have warm colours, which contributes to a homely atmosphere. As does the ‘entertainment centre’, with internet facilities and a flat screen above each bed.
Maasstad Hospital has single and four-person rooms. Arriving in the department, the visitor first passes the four-person rooms; the single rooms are to the rear, where it is quieter. These single rooms have a large glass door. Numan explains this decision: ‘This gives patients the option of transparency to the hallway, although they can also opt for the privacy of a curtain or vertical blinds. And the large windows allow daylight to penetrate into the hallway.
At the rear are the MRSA rooms, where patients can be kept in quarantine. They are accessed through a lock chamber, in which both doors have large windows. And even the interior wall, that forms a division with the adjacent locked chamber, has a window included. Numan: ‘Again, to allow the daylight to penetrate; but of course it also gives the nurse a better overview.’
All the rooms face outside or into an enclosed garden. Numan explains: ‘The patios are the green rooms in the building. We consider it a lounge; a healing environment where people can walk around or sit in nice weather.’ All windows can be opened, except where two facades meet. Numan explains: ‘This is to prevent the spread of fire. The windows and the corners also have fire-resistant glazing, but visually there is no difference with the other panes.’
The walls in every single room have thirty minutes of fire resistance. That creates enough safety margin and time to evacuate a room in the case of fire (where some patients cannot escape independently). The large panes in the interior doors are also fire resistant for thirty minutes.

Physicians, nursing and support staff have modern work spaces. Numan relates: ‘There is a staff centre with rooms for meetings, handovers, secretarial services and concentration suites.’ Here, we opted for large open floors, where the transparent glazed walls ensure that fire partitioning is not at the cost of overview. ‘Because we don’t want it to get silted up with little compartments, a lot of glass has been used here’, explains Numan.
Because, in the consultation centre, all the space along the facade has been reserved for rooms, the waiting rooms are in the central area. ‘The waiting rooms are situated under a void and under skylights’, explains Numan. ‘So daylight gets in. Those waiting and physicians can also see each other and the void provides a view of the level where the personnel work. The void is closed off with glass for reasons of fire safety.’

Importance of fire partitioning
Mark van Tilborg, sales manager with Vetrotech Saint-Gobain, explains about fire-resistant glazing: ‘In general, Contraflam Lite 30 is a good choice for many applications. For example in the single rooms. This pane is toughened and has a low breakage risk. This is a great benefit, because beds and trolleys are pushed around here all the time and untoughened glass breaks far more quickly. In addition, Contraflam Lite 30 has good transparency.’
Contraflam Lite glazing has also been used in the walls of the transparent ‘personnel floor’, relates Van Tilborg: ‘In addition to high transparency, the fact that Contraflam Lite has been tested for large dimensions played an important role here.’

Although fire safety certainly has the highest priority in a hospital, where not everyone can look after their own safety, no sprinkler system was installed. This is because there is a lot of sensitive equipment. And Numan explains: ‘This is to do with the costs, but in addition we didn’t want to interrupt the rhythm of 3 metres 45. And certainly not in the central hall. A consequence of this was that the panes around the hall have to be fire resistant for sixty minutes. And this was achievable, thanks to Contraflam Lite 60, without this being at the expense of transparency. Visitors look straight through into the enclosed garden from the other side of the Magisterial. Another advantage is that this type of fire-resistant glazing complies with the EI15 criterion for temperature insulation.’
Modern hospitals, like the Maasstad Hospital, are transparent buildings in which no concessions are made to (fire) safety. Because the Maasstad Hospital does not have a sprinkler system, it is even more important to limit the risk of an outbreak of fire to a minimum. The presence of patients who are unable to save themselves necessitates the need for fire-safe rooms and escape routes. And because our modern buildings are increasingly transparent to facilitate orientation, views and modern forms of working, it is clear why so very much fire-resistant glazing was used in the construction of the Maasstad Hospital.

Vetrotech promotes knowledge about fire-safe construction in various ways. Vetrotech recently published the brochures ‘Vuistregels brandwerend glas conform Nederlandse regelgeving’ (Rules of thumb for fire-resistant glass in accordance with Dutch legislation) ‘Zorginstellingen – brandwerend veiligheidsglas’ (Healthcare institutions – fire resistant glazing). Vetrotech presented information about fire-resistant glazing, practical errors, and the possibility of savings during the fair ‘Brandveiligheid in de zorg’ (Fire safety in healthcare) on the 30th of November 2010.

Furthermore, the people involved appear to be especially interested in practice, remarks Van Tilborg: ‘People want to know: how can they recognise fire-resistant glass and how can they check if it has been correctly installed. Because they want real safety, not just an appearance of safety. People want to know if coloured foils can been incorporated in the glass sandwich, and how, without diminishing the fire resistance. We can brainstorm with the customer and advise them. Because for architects the opportunities we offer in freedom of design is what counts.’

Vetrotech organises seminars for those involved in hospitals, especially for facility managers, supervisors, architects and advisers. A ‘Glass Academy’ on the application of fire-resistant glazing in hospitals. It is through these kinds of events that Vetrotech disseminates its knowledge and experience in the field of fire-resistant glazing within the target group and, at the same time, it becomes clear how they can be of service to other construction parties.

Van Tilborg explains: ‘The real eye-openers for many of those involved lie in the combinations they want. Of course, it is all about fire safety, but they also don’t want to lose sight of creating a Healing Environment. Examples of this are use of colour and sufficient daylight. But also overview and vantage points with the necessity of retaining transparency. Above all, the prevention of injuries and consequently a lower risk of breakage is an important aspect. The fire- resistant glazing Contraflam Lite is a very good solution here, because it has high light transmission, has fall-through and injury protection and complies with EI15 classification.’

During events like this, it is the group, the professionals from different backgrounds who actually come into contact with practical situations, that makes this such a great learning experience. People who work regularly with fire-resistant glazing, get a better and broader understanding of the material and, at the same time, they learn more about the position of the other building parties involved. A fireman is able to make clear the importance of test reports. The building manager explains the difficulties that occur when apparently small changes cause problems for a planned solution. And a window frame manufacturer can explain that, on the basis of reasoning and different points of view, sometimes unexpected solutions can come about. Through bundling knowledge in this manner and subsequently functioning as an interlocutor, we jointly ensure a fire-safe healthcare environment.
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