Color-filled hospital based on modular design

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The Colours at Martini Hospital in Groningen –  architect Arnold Burger of SEED architects and interior designer Bart Vos worked with color artist Peter Struycken to develop a palette of 47 colors for this new hospital in the Netherlands.


The organization of the hospital was deliberately not set in concrete…, but instead it was decided that a building would be designed based on universal human values.  This meant that there would be fewer fixed functions.

… access to daylight, views and orientation, were taken as the guiding principle for the architecture of the building.  The measure of depth of the basic volumes was reduced to 16 metres, whereas a depth of of 25-30 metres is customary for hospitals.  This resulted in relatively shallow, light rooms with 30% extra daylight on average.

The interior design (“layout and furnishing”) uses a modular system designed by  Burger and Vos called IFD for Industrial, Flexible, and Demountable.

Demountable modular walls are used with a small module-size of 30 cm. The technical pipes and cables can be integrated into the walls so that any required combination and layout is possible, even in the arrangement with windows.  The walls have different colours, so that it will always be possible to create rooms with different colour schemes …

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The use of color was based entirely on the 47-color palette developed by Struycken.


For the application of colours, a matrix was developed.  This is a set of rules by which colours are distributed in the available space.  When the coulours were applied, the matrix was the guiding principle, rather than the space itself. By not thinking in terms of colour-groups, nor in terms of specific wards, but rather in terms of the hospital as a whole, each ward was now treated the same and discussions about colour were avoided.  …

The colour palette with its independently combinable colors supports the idea of disassembly and re-use of interior elements such as walls, doors, and fixed furniture. …

… research has shown that patients and staff react positively to the colors, and that they are less likely to feel they are in a hospital.

This article is from issue #1 [2013] of Hospital Build & Infrastructure Magazine.  SEED architects is part of the multi-disciplinary team called Dutch Hospital Design.  Bart Vos’ firm is Vos Interieur.  Here’s more on Peter Struycken.  The hospital is also in the World Buildings Directory; here’s the entry.





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