Safety in hospitals is a matter of flows of people and goods, as well as the choice of materials: antibacterial, hygienic and wear-resistant. However, safety is also a place where you can feel at home. We discuss this subject with Binini Partners, which specialises in designing hospitals.
Now, more than ever before in the course of this pandemic, we can truly appreciate the importance of the design of spaces and choice of materials for the hygiene of environments and the general well-being of people who spend time in them.
Never before have we faced, through varying degrees of direct experience, the sheer complexity of aspects concerning hospitals, from the control of people flows to safety, from the general sustainability of its management to maintenance and technological implementation. The Binini Partners engineering and architecture firm, founded in Reggio Emilia in 1996, has consolidated experience in the design of hospitals in Italy and abroad, including its latest project, the new IRCCS Galeazzi hospital, which is under construction in Milan’s former Expo district.
Hospitals are among the most crowded facilities, which has implications for people’s safety.
“The optimisation and rational separation of access points from both outside and inside are key factors in planimetric design,” comments architect Cecilia Morini, a partner at Binini Partners. “The optimal distribution of routes guarantees speed, safety and hygiene. It is not just a question of people flows, but also material flows.
For example, dirty and clean materials to and from outpatient or inpatient wards have separate routes, including within the facilities.”
Safety is also linked to hygiene and, consequently, to the choice of materials. “They must comply with health criteria – for example, they must be non-emissive, eco-sustainable and feature antibacterial characteristics to ensure easy sanitation.
The choice varies according to the specific area: more resistant for areas with high traffic; easier to sterilise for areas such as intensive care units or operating rooms, where floor and wall coverings are seamless to avoid stagnation of dirt or dust.
Usually, ceramic materials are more common in spaces such as lobbies and corridors or inpatient wards; while resins and plastic materials are typically used for sterile environments. Porcelain stoneware, which also boasts antibacterial characteristics, is well-suited for use in waiting rooms, communal areas and inpatient wards”.
The new project for the IRCCS Galeazzi common areas involves an original use of natural light, featuring a glazed environment that is open to the outside and has a warmer and more welcoming atmosphere, far-removed from the typical image of hospital waiting rooms.
“We have paid great attention to humanising the rooms and to optimising their internal comfort, creating comfortable living areas and opting for warmer colours and materials with textures that remind patients and visitors of home environments. This approach is also beneficial from a therapeutic standpoint. The technological implementation of the buildings also contributes to this goal: advanced technology systems will be installed in the Galeazzi hospital to manage the entry of natural light, to balance it with artificial light and to control the air conditioning. This will not only operate at a central level, but will be connected to every hospital bed and staff workstation.
In the near future, digitalisation will be applied to the management of hospital crowding: apps for smartphones or devices that enable visitors and patients to reach areas in the shortest possible time, reducing waiting and visiting times and facilitating remote assistance from home.”
Binini Partners is an associate architecture and engineering firm based in Reggio Emilia. It was founded by engineer Tiziano Binini in 1996 and in 2009 it became a company, which oversees all of the group’s operational activities, and Binini Associati, a professional firm dedicated to training and organising professionals. The firm currently comprises 35 professionals and 15 partners, including architect Cecilia Morini. The company has been responsible for a number of major hospital projects, including, most recently, IRCCS Galeazzi in Milan, the new Gemelli hospital in Rome, MIRE – Maternal and Child Health Centre in Reggio Emilia, the CORE Oncology Centre in Reggio Emilia, and the new Careggi hospital in Florence. The firm has also carried out projects in the field of urban planning and engineering including, most recently, the Po navigation lock, the San Teodoro (Olbia-Tempio) port and the navigation lock at Isola Serafini in Monticelli d’Ongina (Piacenza).