In recent years, hospital architecture and engineering have undergone a true revolution. Their objective is not only to design clinically efficient healthcare centres, but to also design physical infrastructures that will be therapeutic for all users. ENERO Arquitectura analyses the challenges that it may confront in the design of new hospital projects in the 21st century. In addition, it also analyses the complex but extraordinary interaction between cutting-edge technology and the humanisation of healthcare spaces in order to optimise the experience of patients and users.

Considerations for project development

If we look back, we see how new healthcare scenarios can emerge from one day to the next, requiring an immediate response from hospitals and healthcare centres. However, this is not a new situation or one that could not be foreseen. At ENERO Arquitectura we have always been very clear about this premise: healthcare buildings must be prepared to offer solutions to a constantly changing society. That is why they must be conceived from the outset as living, functional, efficient and, above all, humanised spaces.

Thanks to this professional philosophy, we have already developed large-scale projects such as:

  • The first proton therapy centre in Spain, in Pozuelo de Alarcón
  • The Quirónsalud Hospital in Córdoba
  • The Master Plan for the complete remodelling of the Jiménez Díaz Foundation University Hospital
  • The new Valle del Henares Quirónsalud Hospital, in Torrejón de Ardoz.

Francisco Ortega, CEO of ENERO Arquitectura, says that during the pandemic, hospitals struggled because of overcrowded ICUs and the difficulties of COVID sufferers coexisting with the rest of the patients. However, he believes that although the pandemic will not produce major changes in hospital architecture, what will have an impact on the structure of new centres is a consequence of it: the impact of advanced clinical mobility or telemedicine. The lower influx of people with mild symptoms is leading to a reduction in outpatient care, and hospitals will be oriented to accommodate seriously ill patients, as well as diagnostic services (radiology, laboratories, etc.) and surgical interventions.

Technology as a major ally

Hospital architecture is much more than the conceptualisation and design of a building. In recent decades there has been a drastic paradigm change in this field, with the understanding that the backbone of healthcare spaces is the users and their environment. Consequently, these spaces must form part of their care and recovery process. This is the only way to take a step forward towards the humanisation of healthcare spaces.

For that, technology and innovation are indisputable allies that are providing centres with an efficiency and functionality never seen before, and especially necessary in these times. It is precisely the use of increasingly advanced technology that is bringing about a major change in the way these spaces are conceived. Technology is increasingly altering the design of buildings. Far from being reduced, equipment is taking up more and more space and resources.

For example, in the first proton therapy centre in Spain, designed by the studio, technology takes up several times more space than the areas for patients or medical staff. Adapting a 30 x 12 x 12-metre structure to someone is demanding. It was and is necessary to make pleasant spaces for users. At ENERO we believe that the building influences the recovery process, and this is a challenge at times.


The proliferation of hybrid operating theatres

Another resource that is increasingly in demand and where technology is having a major influence on infrastructure is the hybrid operating theatre. This is a structure that occupies between two and three times more space than a conventional operating theatre. Its functionality is much greater and avoids displacements between MRI and the operating theatre. The precision with which this technology can work is very high, although to achieve it a lot of very specific equipment needs to be housed. Undoubtedly, the great challenge is to do so without the patient feeling threatened or overwhelmed by the technology and its implementation in the building. Especially when the patient is not sick, but quite the opposite.

We live in an era of immediacy in all areas, and a hospital in the 21st century must be able to adapt to any circumstance in record time. Because of this, the visionary studio ENERO Arquitectura has always had different highly qualified professionals on its team that allow it to develop healthcare spaces with a marked identity uniquely their own. This way, the studio covers all areas of project specialisation (architecture, technical architecture and engineering) and provides the latest and most advanced technology.


Architecture as a therapeutic element: humanisation of healthcare spaces

Another of the qualities that is increasingly present in hospital architecture is the ‘humanisation of healthcare spaces’. This goes beyond their mere – and necessary – functionality. Projects are based on the Theory of Salutogenesis, which is to design friendly environments that allow both patients and staff to maintain control of their well-being. This is a state that constantly fluctuates due to various factors in each individual’s environment, which can be more or less controllable.

Spaces with abundant natural light, adequate acoustic hygiene, privacy for the patient, areas for socialising, references to nature, cohesive signage and landmarks that work within the hospital, etc., These are some of the many factors that go into a hospital project, whose main objective is to stimulate people’s capacity to deal with uncertainty or discomfort in the face of illness.

This is especially significant in healthcare facilities. These are places that are constantly visited by people who are generally not in good health or who must deal with complex situations that cause them great physical and emotional stress.


The experience of a leader in hospital projects

ENERO Arquitectura has been the studio behind some of the most important hospital projects developed in Spain in recent years.

ENERO Arquitectura’s award-winning hospital projects

In the case of University General Hospital of Collado Villaba (2010), the biggest challenge was to construct a 69,000-m2 building with little environmental impact on Madrid’s Sierra Norte and, at the same time, to promote the health of patients and staff. Both objectives were driven by and achieved through innovative solutions. In addition, this project received the Design & Health International Academy Award (Highly Commended) in 2013.

The Quirónsalud Hospital of Córdoba (completed in 2019 and Honourable Mention winner of the Yuanye Awards in China), has become a real highlight of the city. This is because of its unique architecture, marked by its exterior ‘skin’, a metal lattice that envelopes the building and provides shade and optimal energy conditions. This improves the building’s thermal efficiency by controlling and filtering sunlight. The Mudéjar imprint of this exterior ‘skin’ culturally connects the city’s historical legacy with the location of the hospital. This was possible due to the existence of archaeological remains from the Islamic period on the building plot.

Other major hospital projects

The first proton therapy centre in Spain (2018), in Pozuelo de Alarcón, was a very complex project due to the advanced technology that had never been used before in our country. In addition, there was the need to convert the bunker-type structure and its enclosure into a friendly space for patients and users.

ENERO Arquitectura has also had an important presence in Catalonia. We have been carrying out important interventions in hospitals like Sagrat Cor University Hospital, General Hospital of Catalonia, El Pilar Clinic, as well as the construction of a new hospital in Badalona, just outside of Barcelona.

The commitment and responsibility shown by the studio in each of its projects has allowed them to have a portfolio of clients that includes leading companies in the healthcare sector of our country, such as Quirónsalud, Sanitas, Fraternidad Muprespa and Consorci Sanitari Pere Virgili, in addition to public centres.


Valle del Henares Quirónsalud Hospital

One of the studio’s latest hospital projects was the recently opened Valle de Henares Quirónsalud Hospital, in Torrejón de Ardoz. The preliminary study and its process were highly complex, seeking to combine the optimisation of construction time and maximum efficiency through innovation. All of this, of course, was done at the same time as improving care processes and the patient experience.

Jiménez Díaz Foundation University Hospital

From new construction to one of the largest refurbishments ever experienced in a major international hospital: the Jiménez Díaz Foundation University Hospital. The project began in 2009 and continues today. ENERO Arquitectura demonstrates its enormous ability to adapt to different challenges within hospital architecture. The final objective in this project is to achieve a unifying and homogeneous image of the large hospital by completing the renovation and modernisation of the whole complex. This way, the well-being of users and the efficiency and sustainability of the building will be promoted. All this will provide the city with a healthcare centre in accordance with its demands and needs.

One of the latest phases of the Jiménez Díaz Foundation University Hospital has been the completion of the new Nuclear Medicine area. This 559-m2 project is in a better location within the centre and has integrated the latest technology for radiation diagnosis.


Ruber International Masó Medical Centre

It is also worth mentioning that one of the studio’s latest hospital projects was recently opened: the Ruber International Masó Medical Centre. It is an international icon in the area of assisted reproduction and In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), both for its quality of care and for the innovative technology it houses for this type of treatment. It has a wide range of doctors with the following specialities:

  • Gynaecology
  • Clinical Immunology
  • Medical Genetics
  • Maxillofacial Surgery and Dentistry
  • Dermatology
  • Internal Medicine

It has a modern embryology laboratory where are IVF procedures and processes take place with the latest embryonic genetic diagnosis methods.