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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

New surgical center Ulm in Baden-Württemberg, Germany by KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten

July 14th, 2012 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten

Light, bright and colorful: the architecture of the new Surgical Center on the Oberer Eselsberg in Ulm. The building was designed by the KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten Munich Office, having won the competition in 2001. The Surgical Center / Dermatology blends into the surrounding landscape and, with the “floating” ward block, also sets a distinctive architectural tone.

In June 2012 the six departments of Ulm University Hospital moved  into the new Surgery / Dermatology building with their patients. The medical institutions, previously scattered over various sites, are now brought together in the new hospital building which will further improve medical care in the Ulm region.  The Surgical Center provides sufficient space for 15 state-of-the-art operating rooms, 235 regular care and 80 intensive care or monitored beds. The building, which offers gross floor space of around 70,000 sq.m., was completed in four years within the scheduled timeframe and budget.

Image Courtesy Jean-Luc Valentin

  • Architects: KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten
  • Project: New surgical center Ulm
  • Location: Baden-Württemberg, Germany
  • Client / user: Universitätsklinikum Ulm
  • Project management: Andrea Erpenbeck, Tereza Nezdara (assist.)
  • General care wards: 235 beds
  • Intensive care: 80 beds
  • OR / Outpatient Clinic: 12 operating rooms / 3 operating rooms

Image Courtesy Jean-Luc Valentin

  • Gross floor area: approx. 68,500 m²
  • Useful floor area: approx. 30,000 m²
  • Gross volume: approx. 340,000 m³
  • Competition: 2001, 1st prize
  • Foundation stone laid: 04.10.2008
  • Completion: 05.10.2012
  • Picture credit: KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten, photographer: Jean-Luc Valentin

Image Courtesy Jean-Luc Valentin

The architecture: light, bright and transparent

The new building is divided into two sections in terms of both function and design in order to integrate the large volume of the hospital extension building into the natural surroundings with their wooded and green areas. The base structure is a two to three-story building largely embedded in the landscape and with green courtyards. The ward block is positioned above it, a 160-meter-long structure rising up above the natural lie of the land. Across the three stories there are eight ward wings with a total of 235 beds.

The podium structure houses Operative Therapy with 12 operating theaters, the Intensive Care Unit with 80 monitored and care beds, the Outpatient Clinic with three more operating rooms, Emergency Room, Radiology, specialist outpatient departments and Dermatological Center. Eight green courtyards with forest plants allow plenty of daylight into the building.

Image Courtesy Jean-Luc Valentin

Jürgen Engel describes the qualities of the new building as follows: “The challenge was to group the various functional aspects into a simple yet expressive architectural form and combine them with the environment. The clear separation of medical treatment and ward block is an innovation in this form. Our concept, which we call the ‘Ulm model’, has already served as the template for further architectural designs in hospital construction. Our spacious, light building is designed to eliminate patients’ fear and the typical feeling of unease people often have in a hospital.”

The new entrance area, a spacious foyer pavilion, contains the service point and patient admission and thus has a central function for the entire University Hospital. From here the main two-story corridor, the central axis, leads to all specialist departments and functional units. The corridor represents the backbone of the building and combines the base structure with the ward block. It features a glazed wall looking out into the landscape and facilitates orientation within the building.

Image Courtesy Jean-Luc Valentin

Four atria as architectural highlights

A roughly 8×8-meter atrium can be found at each of the four access cores. Starting at the base structure and extending up through the central corridor and ward block, they direct sunlight all the way down into the lower levels of the functional areas. Central functions on each of the wards such as nursing stations are grouped around the bright atria.

Color makes for a friendly atmosphere

The color concept is based on four warm tones: yellow, orange, red and brown. Each atrium and courtyard is marked with one of these four colors. Color elements in the building are: the glass balustrades at the atria, the central nursing stations on the wards, rooms for patients, window frames in the rendered façade (“moldings”) in the podium area and exterior design and landscaping of the courtyards. Bright and friendly materials create a pleasant atmosphere inside the building for patients, visitors and staff.


The façades along the ward block are structured horizontally following the formal lines created by the story ceilings and given a visual frame. Multicolored glass openings animate the front and rear façades and create a particular lighting mood in each patient room.

KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten, buildings for the healthcare sector

KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten has already made a name for itself with further projects in the healthcare sector. Alongside the major hospital project in Ulm, the completion of the expansion of the Universitätsklinikum in Freiburg (Freiburg University Hospital) is also scheduled for 2012, as is the completion of the Zahnklinik der Universität Leipzig (University of Leipzig Dental Clinic). Moreover, KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten is planning the new surgical center OP-Zentrum Nord as an extension to the Klinikum Rechts der Isar in the Munich district of Haidhausen. The new public hospital building offers space for eight operating rooms, 28 general care beds and 16 intensive care beds. Completion is scheduled for 2015.


International projects by KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten

Abroad Jürgen Engel’s studio has in recent years realized various cultural buildings such as the National Library of China in Beijing (completed 2008) and Art Museum in Nanjing (2010). A further exhibition space was completed in May 2012 with the Art Museum in Tianjin. The museum in the port city of Tianjin is part of a 90-hectare culture and leisure complex. Moreover, in 2011 the studio’s design took first place in an international competition for the urban development project “Qingdao Science and Technology City”. The ecological and sustainable urban development in the port city of Qingdao is to provide living space for approx. 100,000 people.

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Category: Medical Center

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