No Solitaire, yet with an Identity

No Solitaire, yet with an Identity

National Centre for Tumour Diseases

Synergy effects in research and treatment are planned to be optimally used at the “Nationales Centrum für Tumorerkrankungen” designed by Behnisch Architekten.

“A house without the typical hospital atmosphere, yet still providing best possible treatment for the patients along with ideal work conditions for all employees“ was the requirement the architectural firm Behnisch Architekten has formulated for itself (quote Behnisch Architekten). The design of the Nationales Centrum für Tumorerkrankungen (NCT) (National Centre for Tumour Diseases) was completed in October 2010, the building was opened on November 2 of the same year. All in all four organizations have gathered for the NCT: The Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (German cancer research center), the Universitätsklinikum Heidelberg (Heidelberg university hospital), the Thoraxklinik Heidelberg as well as the Deutsche Krebshilfe (German cancer aid). Goal of this gathering was to connect research, diagnosis, therapy and post-operative care at one place. The ones in charge hope to lose less time and gain more synergies. Innovative approaches from cancer research are supposed to be optimally connected with diagnosis, therapy, post-operative care as well as prevention.

Calm Façade full of Tension

Behnisch Architekten have made a major contribution to the overall concept of NCT. To prevent a typical hospital atmosphere from the very beginning, they have created an airy, open building. A bright, friendly atrium hall across five floors is the central reception for the guests of the center. Depression and anxiety should be avoided as far as possible by using constructional means. Bright colors, wooden stairs and banisters as well as fair-faced concrete let the atrium appear like a modern lobby. The building itself is a ferro-concrete building, separated into two horizontal structures when looked at from outside. The lower structure has two floors, at the Eastern side three along with a glass façade. In a strong contrast the structure on top of it is completely closed and plastered in white. The windows in the plastered façade all have a square shape and the same size. Still, the architects have managed to create a diversified façade by deploying a few tricks. All windows are on the same level, but vary in their distance to each other. Additionally, each window is framed by large edgings. These edged frames are located in an asymmetrical manner towards the window opening, varying in their position from window to window. Despite the classic white plastered façade and windows all having the same size, the architects have managed to create a diversified façade.

Urban Plannuing and Usage Distribution

The outer shape of the lower glass part of the building has been designed based on the surrounding structures. Towards the East the building picks up the adjacent building of the university hospital. Inside this four-level building you will find the labs. They are arranged in a classic way along the façade at a rectangular angle. In the Western part this strict structure is somewhat loosened up, and the arrangement of rooms follows less strict rules. The street along the building is mirrored in the façade edge. The shape of the plastered structure lying on top develops in a free fashion. Towards the North and the West it projects beyond the lower structure and forms a strong, roofed entrance situation. On the two floors of the upper structure you will find mainly offices and conference rooms.

Strengths of the Building

The strengths of the building are in the calmness deliberately developed by the architects, yet it does not appear trivial. Its shape and two-façade concept provide the building with an identity of its own on the campus without letting it appear like a lone solitaire.

Project details


Behnisch Architekten


Completed in October 2010


Nationales Centrum für Tumorerkrankungen


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