Amsterdam UMC Imaging Center

ARC20: Amsterdam UMC Imaging Center - Wiegerinck

ArchitecturePublished on 2 Dec 2020

Meeting. Communication. Collaboration. These are the keywords for the design of the Amsterdam UMC Imaging Centre. A building in which radiological examinations of patients, clinical research, and isotope production are brought together for the first time. A beautiful challenge, especially given the desired compactness of the new building.

The design themes each refer to a part of the human body. Thus, the shell forms the skeleton, the void the lungs, the shafts and technology the circulatory system, and the façade the skin.

Explanation by Wiegerinck - The Amsterdam UMC Imaging Center adds unique functions to the national cluster for health and life sciences. Firstly, it is by far the largest concentration of advanced medical imaging techniques available in Europe, allowing for shorter waiting lists, early diagnosis, and treatment choice, as well as a better clinical treatment. Secondly, radiologists and nuclear physicians can look in more detail at the anatomical structures and physiological, metabolic, and molecular processes of the human body due to the availability of the latest innovations in diagnostic support. This enables them to select the right treatment for the right patient at the right time. Thirdly, a uniquely equipped laboratory has been created to accelerate medical and pharmaceutical research and lower the costs of developing new drugs and treatments. Finally, a renowned manufacturer of radiopharmaceuticals ensures the availability of medical isotopes.

The Imaging Centre marks the redevelopment of the VUmc Campus. To achieve this, the Botanical Garden will be transformed into an enclosed courtyard garden with a pleasant atmosphere for both patients and other visitors.

Physically bringing all imaging disciplines together is the first step towards substantive synergy between the departments. The new building should promote synergy and cooperation between the parties. Meeting, communication, and cooperation, therefore, form the basis of the design. The building is now an interactive platform for various users and visitors.

A complex building like this can be compared to a living organism in which the different parts each have their function and work together as organs to keep the whole alive.

The design themes each refer to a part of the human body. Thus, the shell forms the skeleton, the void the lungs, the shafts and technology the circulatory system, and the façade the skin.

The façade is the skin that represents the building's identity. The skin responds to the context, slightly changing its openness from side to side, but above all ensuring that the building behaves as a single entity. The façade elements are the mediator with the environment. They regulate the building's physical conditions (light, air, sound, shading) and the interaction with the outside. The transparent skin of the Imaging Center makes the inside subtly visible. Its architectural appearance tells something about its interior. The façade is built from uniform detailing which is applied all around the building.

Concrete frames form the basis of the façade. The dimensions match the shell, which is designed for maximum flexibility. The concrete frames are tapered and have a polished finish on the inside of the edge. This subtly reveals the composition of the concrete.

The filling of the frames is formed by large glass panels encased in aluminum frames.

The glass has a screen-printed metallic print that creates a semi-transparent appearance. This enhances the physical performance of the glass on the one hand but also increases privacy on the inside. The local omission of this print creates special areas within the building.

The print is composed of small figurative elements that together form an organic image, depicting the structure of human skin. The distance to the facade produces a continuously changing perception. The closer to the building the more one starts to explore. The metaphor for the close examination of the human body as it takes place within the Amsterdam UMC Imaging Centre.

This article was previously published on 2 Dec 2020 on the website of de Architect.