That a building, change outside with the hours of the day is a good sign. Not all do it. That it reacts to the sun, that is to say, that it filters it more in some facades than in others, implies that it protects users where there is overheating – on the south side – and that, on the contrary, it seeks light for the same users on the north side, where the sun barely hits. Thus, from the skin of its facades, a building sends a message to its environment and another to those who use it. It reveals if you know where you are and if you have thought about people. It is clear that the great works take care of both sides of the architectural coin. It is also evident that both concerns are important. But it is understood that they can be even more so when the building is a hospital.
Northwest of Cordova, the metal latticework that surrounds the new Chiron Hospital, projected by the Madrid studio January Architects, it has a plastic consequence: it gets an infrastructure composed of two bodies to be read as a single volume. That order is appreciated in an undefined area of the outskirts that needs an identity. Inspired by the abstract geometrical motifs of the Arab mashrabiyas, the gilded sheet metal skin is attached with uprights to the edges of the slabs and shades a second layer of glass that acts as a thermal enclosure.
There are patients of various types. There are the sick and there are those who fear to be. Or what is the same: those who need calm and those who are in a hurry to solve their doubts. Therefore, as happens in the façade, the hospital responds with geometry to such conflicting needs by organizing its program of cures, diagnoses and treatments in two twinned volumes, with different uses. Thus, there is a large technical building-with maintenance machinery and operating rooms-for hospitalization and another minor that functions as an outpatient. Each body surrounds a cloister courtyard, silent and luminous. And the two join in a twin that concentrates, and discriminates, the accesses.
With a remarkable experience in sanitary architecture -they are the General Hospital of Collado Villalba and numerous health centers throughout Spain-, the architects of the January study call "open spaces" to the light floors and walls and to the rooms with natural light and little furnished that in a hospital invite to rest. Concealed on a false ceiling of wooden slats or metal plates, in the hospital area, the absence of protuberances-alarms, pipes or luminaires-also contributes to visual calmness. Thus, with clean coatings, the light of the courtyards multiplies and not only improves the patient's stay, it also allows a notable energy saving -incremented by the solar energy collectors of the cover-.
Beyond its foresight to the sun, this building had to react to the site repositioning itself after the discovery of an Islamic necropolis. Thus, the two volumes have different alignments, but it is precisely this solution that breaks the monumentality of a 23,500-square-meter building, preventing it from becoming a mammoth building.
That is why, although today it is vibrant on the outside – rising with the passage of daily hours – it remains to be seen how the perforated metal sheet will react as the years go by. Kind on the inside, the marble, the wood and the effort to clean the spaces are already facing that step serenely.
With a budget of 1,080 euros per square meter "including the very expensive sanitary facilities", the architects point out, too much sun and light, cultural tradition, the suburbs, the sick, urgency and fear are the factors that managed them to build this hospital. The result is a singular property and yet rooted in a context to be defined. A great contained, serene and orderly infrastructure that nevertheless vibrates in the neighborhood of Cruz Conde Park.