Radboud UMC, Dentistry department
Healthcare, education and research all under one roof, in a fully renovated building with clever combinations of the old and new. The building that houses the Dentistry department of Radboud University Nijmegen features an award-winning design by Inbo (Gulden Fenix, Nijmegen Architecture Prize, nominated for the Arc 18 interior, honorary mention interior award) and Ex Interiors in collaboration with Wiegerinck architects. Gispen furnished the reception area, waiting rooms and treatment areas and created a matching educational and working environment.
Inviting building of healthcare and education
An extract from the jury report of the Nijmegen Architecture Prize 2017: 'A beautiful, effective transformation of a brutalist building into an airy, inviting building of healthcare and education. When the jury saw the building for the first time they were immediately impressed; when they entered the building they encountered one pleasant surprise after another. The daring choice for preservation was put into practice in an extraordinary way, with countless clever combinations of the old and new. The project is an appeal to keep reusing buildings.’
Client Nicolai Giling, managing director of the Dentistry department at the time of the renovation: 'There was already a new construction plan in place, but we still opted for a complete renovation of the existing building. The low-rise building has been completely renewed and the high-rise building has been completely renovated.' The overhauled building is future-proof due to an improved internal organisation, a sustainability effort (saving energy was a main priority), increased comfort, solid materials – carried through to the furnishing – and a contemporary look.
The client’s thoughts
‘Our vision for the interior had already been established. We asked Gispen to come up with a creative interpretation of our plans; sharing their expertise with us along the way. It was clear that Gispen understood our wishes, and they provided us and the interior architect with solid alternatives which matched our ideas in terms of cost, quality and design. We opted for a Gispen alternative in at least 40% of the time.’
Japanese garden as a source of inspiration
The Dentistry department is where students of Dentistry and Oral Care are trained, where scientific research takes place and where patients undergo treatment. Nicolai Giling: 'We find it very important that our patients feel welcome here. Hardly anyone looks forward to a dentist’s appointment, especially when one has anxiety or will have to undergo a complex type of procedure. This is why we wanted to provide our visitors with an atmosphere that exudes peace and comfort.’
Ex Interiors: 'The traditional Japanese garden was our source of inspiration for the design of the reception area. The idea behind the Japanese garden is to create an organic landscape, but perfected. A landscape that radiates tranquillity and serenity. This concept has been applied to the so-called clinic square on the ground floor which houses the front desk, waiting areas and a restaurant. We opted for a transparent, minimalist layout with sleek white furniture and cast floors with distinctive carpets. Greens and blues in combination with warm wood tones create sharp contrasts with the characteristic concrete of the building itself.'
From dispersed solutions to a place of unity
In addition to the clinic square with its treatment rooms, the building houses educational facilities on the first and second floor, a skills lab and research laboratory on the third floor and an office environment with a combination of open and closed workspaces and multi-functional conference rooms on the fourth and fifth floor. Nicolai Giling: 'We aimed to create a certain level of unity in the building. All types of different solutions had been adopted for the furniture throughout the years. The new furniture had to follow the same design language across the entire building, without it becoming too uniform at the same time. Several parties were asked to put forward a proposal for the interior design. Gispen won the contract after a mini competition including a presentation and trial setup.
The architect’s thoughts
‘Although the separate pieces of furniture are usually selected in the final stages of a project, they do define the space you are designing. We usually take the lead, but it is incredibly valuable if your furnishing partner stays involved and keeps sharing their expertise. What’s great about this project is that we joined forces with the client in taking the users’ perspective as a starting point. And you truly need one another to do so effectively.’
Peter van der Linden, New Business Manager Healthcare at Gispen: 'The result is a striking combination of products from our collection that supports different ways of 'waiting' or 'working'. From high to low seating options in the reception area; from seeking privacy to meeting others and working together in the work environment. The custom solutions are mainly found in upholstery; the building is defined by an atmosphere of beautiful colour schemes that matches the concept of the Japanese garden.’ The coffee corners are distinguished by TM tables with sloping legs and solid wood tops with black More or Less chairs. The study environment is filled with custom-made study desks and Triennial Work chairs, as well as comfortable TST recliners. The conference rooms contain oval TT tables with Turn chairs. The work environment has been furnished with sit/stand Scrum tables and Multilounge niches.
Hetty Keiren: ‘I enjoyed working with Peter. With such a large project there are so many details to take into account, from a specific table leg or fabric to a stair rail. It’s great to have someone who has an eye for these intricacies – who double checks everything, shares his thoughts and keeps you posted.’
Are you satisfied with the result?
Nicolai Giling: 'It was a complex and large-scale project with multiple stages of delivery in terms of furniture. During the implementation process it took a while to get on the same page, but the final is something to be proud of. Everything matches and it’s not for nothing that we were rewarded with a prize and secured several nominations. People’s first reaction when they see it is often: 'wow, this is beautiful!’ When you ask patients, some absolutely love the entrance hall, but others would have preferred it to be smaller and more intimate – but there is no accounting for taste. What I personally find very important, in addition to a good design, is that the products that are supplied are of a high quality, which is also the case; the interior is sturdy and durable, can withstand heavy use and is easy to clean.'
Photos1-6: Alexander van Berge
From 7: Chris van Koeverden