Helping Hand

19.05.2010, 20:56 Print version
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Renowned French architect Antoine Buisseret now has to visit Ukraine quite often. He is chief architect of a great project – All-Ukrainian Center to Protect Mothers’ and Children’s Health, government’s initiative, in which the Ukraine 3000 International Charitable Foundation is involved. At present, the project is on the stage of coordination with Ukrderzhbudekspertyza, so officials have to clear with him certain questions from time to time. This medical facility is truly innovative in Ukraine, and it’s hard to fit it into the old Soviet-time standards. Last week Mr. Buisseret again visited Ukraine. UM had a chance to meet with the architect and find out first-hand what the mysterious Hospital of the Future will look like.


– Mr. Buisseret, this children’s hospital will be very different from traditional Ukrainian patient care facilities. When working on the design, did you take any interest in the way similar projects are done in Ukraine?

– When we took part in the competition, we had no idea about hospital construction in Ukraine. Thus, we were guided by international standards, since we have big experience of making designs in various countries precisely for hospitals and social projects. However, this clinic will be Ukrainian in its architecture and trimming. We gave up certain materials (aluminum, glossy veneer, etc.) and traditional rectangular shapes, which would make the building a typical “international” project. Instead, we have studied the peculiar features of Ukrainian architecture and traditional materials, so that the hospital would fit in the national culture and local landscape. For instance, there will be lots of wood, aged copper, iconography, colors familiar for Ukrainian’s eyes, other traditional for your country elements and materials in the hospital’s trimming. At that, they will be combined harmoniously with modern architectural technologies.

– If you look at your project from above, it’s easy to notice that it reminds one of an open hand. Is it a coincidence or a conscious intention?

– It was my idea; I guess one can call it accidental. We were bound to a certain land plot, situated in a beautiful forest. We wanted to preserve as much of this forest as possible, so we came up with a sort of fan-shaped design, looking like fingers. This way we won’t have to destroy the trees between them. While trying to fit in the hospital in perfect harmony with the terrain, at first we didn’t think about any symbolism in it. However, today this hand-shaped hospital really looks like a helping hand offered to children.

– Is there any difference between children’s and adult hospitals abroad?

– Definitely. Though they are similar in terms of treatment and diagnosing technologies, the attitude toward sickness by a child and an adult is very different. Their perception of the environment where patients are is also different. This is the way it will be in the Ukrainian hospital. Our major goal was to look on the design through child’s eyes. This is why the hospital is designed so that the place where children stay and rest – the wards –in no way intersects with the places for treatment and diagnostic – “pain places” as we call them. In the ward units a child doesn’t see any surgeries, gurneys with seriously ill patients; - nothing that would remind her that she is at a hospital. Instead, she sees beautiful forest in the window, listens to the birds’ songs. We believe that being in a place separated from the disease and “pain places” will favor little patient’s speedy recovery.

– What other tricks do you have in store to make children forget they are in hospital?

– The wards sector will be so designed as to have as much daylight as possible, which triggers the production of serotonin – “the happy hormone”. There won’t be any traditional long hallway with wards on both sides. By the way, most of the wards are one-bed or two-bed at best (for those loving company and not wanting to be alone). There will also be playrooms where kids will have fun together. Projection equipment can be installed there so that the kids could watch movies or cartoons (there will be TV sets in the wards, too, though).

We took care of children’s safety, in part, preventing kidnapping. There will be special detectors controlling the ward entrances.

– What improvements have you envisaged for medical staff and patients’ parents?

– Since staff member s spend more time at the hospital than patients, we gave special attention to their working environment and its comforts. The hospital will have state-of-the-art equipment; diagnostic rooms will be close at hand; doctors will have quick access to patient. The doctors and nurses will also have their own space where they can relax and have something to eat.

We also have thought about the parents. Family’s support is especially important in modern pediatrics, so we have envisaged beds for parents or family members in the wards. There also will be a hotel on the hospital grounds, where parents and experts coming to work or for training will stay.

There also will be a restaurant, cafeteria, shops, and drugstore on the grounds – everything parents and children need to make their stay comfortable.


– Are there any bureaucratic hurdles on the project’s way?

– The thing is, there are lots of organizations in Ukraine you have to get permits from. Together with Ukraine 3000 Foundation we spend lots of time and energy trying to obtain these permits, camping on the doorsteps – unlike in France where everything comes down to a single agency. There, if you have a completed design and apply it for approval, the corresponding body has to make a decision within four months term. If you don’t get an answer in four months, you can start the construction, since it automatically means that you have your permit and officials have no complaints regarding it. In Ukraine, to pass various barriers, we have to deal with a huge number of single-functioned experts on various spheres, listen to their advice as for how we can get some or other permit to fit in the existing standards. Most of the officials we have talked to approved and welcomed the innovative and great project, but claim the conservative regulations existing in Ukraine, which they cannot neglect. Our project has an experimental status, and this helps us to move ahead. However, there still are obstacles. For every departure from standards we have to present countless substantiations: why we do this and not that. In general, because of all these bureaucratic procedures the process goes slower than we expected. However, we hope that, having gone through all this, we will help further innovative projects do be implemented in Ukraine.

– Are there any energy-saving technologies involved in the project?

– Certainly. The hospital will be heated by an autonomous energy station. We also envisaged a good warmth-keeping system. The atrium, separating the wards from medical units, will be covered with unique material, able to accumulate sunlight and heat the premises during winter time. Special sun panels will be used for water heating.

– Did the project receive any international recognition?

– Yes; there was a number of publications in architectural magazines. We got a prize in the Bentley architectural competition for technological solutions used in the atrium. It was also celebrated as best project at an international innovative projects competition in Bulgaria.

I’d like to add that people abroad follow closely the project’s implementation, since for Europe it is new in may ways, certainly not your average hospital. We would like it to be completed as soon as possible. There is nothing like it in Ukraine’s healthcare system; it will be the first project [of this kind], paving the way to a new generation of hospitals in your country.

Lina KUSHNIR, Ukrayina moloda

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