Nichtoffener Wettbewerb | 06/2013

New BRI Hospital Facade



Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos



At first glance it seems difficult to give a key role to an architectural element that is isolated from a project,and one generally accepts that, if there is a protagonist, it must be related to its global conception, not to partial aspects. But a close reading of the competition intentions allows acknowledging the meaning that one single principle - the facade - can acquire for the transformation of an architectural and urban condition. The new concept will not only define the hospital’s new image, but, as an expression of the city / scale duality, it recognizes the role of architecture in the definition of the public space.

The project is based on a clear goal: the new facade should solve different problems with a simple and straightforward gesture, taking into consideration the existing building conditions, the new welcome centre addition, as well as the relation to the street level. The proposed concept addresses thus urban scale issues, visual and spatial connections, as well as technical and structural requirements.

On this second stage of the design competition, we wanted the proposal to go further with its vision by addressing the worries and expectations of all stakeholders beyond the technical development requirements.

It became clear that the original vertical rhythm of the existing facade was accepted and considered as a starting point of the new solution. Then, the analysis of all the different layers (structural and material) became the instrument to develop the proposal and taking into consideration the functional needs that were one of our biggest concerns.

To address the technical requirements in this concept we propose a modular curtain wall system which combines all the technical requirements requested: provides a highly thermally efficient window system, enhances the insulating layer, increases its acoustical performance, and assures complete watertightness. The outer glazing system on the existing building is replaced, but the existing inner fenestration remains as it is, so internal disruption is kept to a minimum while the works are carried out.
As part of the design solution, we also propose the complete removal of the asbestos cladding panels. Thus, two key issues are solved: increasing the structural capacity to support and fix the new glazing system, and upgrading the existent external fabric’s thermal performance by the reinforcement of insulation. The protection of the concrete frame and concrete repairs were taken into account as well as the required rehabilitation works.
The proposal also includes the re-cladding of the existent non-structural ornamental elements and of the concrete horizontal bands. Aluminium composite panels will be installed and fixed onto the head and base of the concrete plinth via a sub-frame system.
A light metallic structure keeping the same rhythm and pattern of the rest of the façade, will unify the perimeter and will link aesthetically this element with the overall image of the whole building.

To address the functional and spatial requirements, the small open garden which redefines the public realm to provide a new sense of welcoming and non-threatening environment was critical for the improvements held on this Second Stage version of the proposal. We enlarged the ambulances and patients' access for the Physiotherapy Department, as well as the loading-unloading area. Also, there is a restricted time parking area for the disabled access and for the BRI' staff and so the proposed garden gains more meaning despite being smaller. We truly believe that the streetscape acquires a new reinforced profile embodying the engagement between the UH Bristol, the city and the local residents.

Feasibility Study (upper level)

The project relies on an architectural concept more than simply on a new image. The new facade scheme affects not only the main building, but incorporates also the welcome centre and the loading and unloading area.

So when we were asked to think about a solution that could indicate how the design of the Facade might be adapted to incorporate Level 9 of the BRI it became clear that what we had to do was to extend the same conceptual and formal gesture of the BRI Facade, which is the instantly recognizable brand of this proposal.

The overall proposal acquired a stronger meaning by strengthening its nature and also achieved its goal in the search for a rational and sustainable execution.