The Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology, (Utrecht, The Netherlands) has opened its doors in May 2018. With 45,000 m2 it is the biggest centre in Europe and unique for the world. Highly complex research, cure and care coming together in one building. Its mission: to cure every child with cancer while providing an optimal quality of life.
The architecture of Princess Máxima Center is designed to support this goal. Extensive research into healing environments and evidence-based design took place to create a building that allows for the normal development of the children despite their disease. The child and the family should lead a normal life for as long as possible. The research was conducted by doctors, psychiatrist, engineers and architects together in close collaboration with patients and parents. The terminology used for this approach is ‘development-orientated care’.
The development of children diagnosed with cancer is at least one year in arrears if they survive. That explains the attention, not only to the illness and treatment, but also to the development of the child and the family. The result is a unique layout of the center. A set of rules has been established for the set-up of the building to allow a stress-free use. For example, the “1-minute rule” states that parents have to find all the amenities within one-minute walking distance from the patient’s room.
This is clearly illustrated in the special patient units developed together with KopVol: each patient unit consist of two independent adjacent spaces – one room for the patient and one for the parents. A sliding door allows the users to divide or connect the spaces according to their needs. The individual outside space of these units is accessible by the parent’s room. This enhances the feeling of control and safety; these being the main aspects of stress reduction.
Furthermore, LIAG paid particular attention to the known aspects of a healing environment such as daylight, air, views, good acoustics, clear zoning and so on in order to facilitate the healing process. Moreover, a calming environment, which supports natural processes such as the rhythm of night and day as well as the experience of the seasons and weather, contributes to the recovery and wellbeing of young patients. The Princess Máxima Center is connected by a colourful bridge to the Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital (WKZ) at the University Medical Centre in Utrecht to make optimal use of their shared facilities. The “rainbow” space creates not just a connection but a special experience for the young patients.