Princess Máxima Centre for paediatric oncology
The Princess Máxima Centre in Utrecht, specialised in paediatric oncology, is one of a kind. This is where healthcare, research, education and training all come together in one national institute. Due to this clustering and with a surface area of 45,000 m2, it is the largest children’s oncology centre in Europe. The idea behind the interior is just as unique – development-oriented care is the guiding principle. Gispen worked closely together with MMEK in furnishing all the care-related rooms and office workspaces.
At the Princess Máxima Centre, they strive to keep children developing for as far as possible during their treatment. Fieneke de Munck Mortier, Project Manager Interior Design at the Princess Máxima Centre: ‘We call this development-oriented care. When a child develops cancer, it affects everything. Their entire family, school and friends. We want to make sure that sick children can continue to be children. We want to offer them all the freedom they need, both literally and figuratively. Riding their bicycles around and playing with other children, for example. It is also nice for the parents to meet other parents who are going through the same thing.’ This is why we deliberately included lots of playing areas in the architectural design. Space for them to play, learn and discover.
The client’s thoughts
“Gispen has really listened to our requests and has translated our plans very effectively into the interior design. The entire interior has been realised in close cooperation with MMEK and Gispen. There were times when we had to keep working at a rapid pace; it was great to see how everybody pulled their weight. And Gispen has shared a great deal of expertise from their experience in furnishing other healthcare institutions and office environments.”
The newly constructed building of the Princess Máxima Centre had to provide facilities for cancer patients ranging from 0 to 18 years. How does one realise this in an appealing and clever way, and in line with development-oriented care? The Princess Máxima Centre presented this question to MMEK, an agency that specialises in experience design. Erik van Kuijk of MMEK: ‘First of all, we wanted to make sure that the children who are being treated get enough exercise. We let them walk, run and do their own thing. Exercise is very important for children with cancer, because it allows their physical and mental development to continue for as far as possible. In addition, we wanted to create an environment in which the child, parents and brothers or sisters feel safe and welcome. When a child gets cancer, everything comes to a standstill. Now, the only important thing is to get better; continuation of family life is very important. In addition to the employees of the Princess Máxima Centre, the parents and children have also been closely involved in the plans for the new interior.’
From interior concept to final interior design
Children are and always will be children
Distraction, exercise and relaxation
A word from the experience designer
‘Together with Gispen, we wanted to bring the spirit of the Princess Máxima Centre to life. It is and will always be a hospital, but I think we all managed to create something special, making you forget about the Lysol scent. We understood each other well, gave each other space and were flexible where necessary. The foundation for a pleasant partnership.’
What do you think of the result?
Fieneke de Munck Mortier: ‘We've been operational for a couple of months now. Some things were quite stressful. Employees who used to work at different hospitals, now work in one new building – so both their colleagues and the building are new to them. And everything was thought through, but does it work as we had hoped? During the planning process, we listened carefully to the parents and children, and we received lots of positive reactions to the new parent-children's rooms so far. It is a unique concept, after all. But of course, you always come up against some practical things that need addressing. We will continue to evaluate and fine-tune things and we are still in contact with all the involved parties. This includes Gispen, of course, if we ever need extra furniture.’
Architecture: Liag Architects and construction advisors, Thomas Bögl.
Banner and photos 1 - 20: Chris van Koeverden
Photos 21-28: MMEK
Products included in this project