Caring architecture

Architecture and interior design join forces for philanthropic aims in the Kālida Sant Pau Centre of Barcelona, an assistance facility for cancer patients, thanks to a ‘pro bono’ project by Benedetta Tagliabue, Patricia Urquiola and many other international design firms

Kālida Sant Pau Centre, Barcelona
Kālida Sant Pau Centre, Barcelona

Stakeholders: Fundació Kālida, Nous Cims, Fundació Privada de l’Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, Maggie’s Centre, Studio Urquiola
Architecture: Benedetta Tagliabue – EMBT
Interior design: Studio Urquiola
Landscape consultant: Miralles Tagliabue EMBT
Main Contractor: Construcciones Pérez Villora
Furnishings: Andreu World, Arlex, Cappellini, GAN, Kettal, Moroso, Point, Viccarbe
Kitchens: Bulthaup
Lighting: Bover Barcelona Lights, Flos, Santa&Cole
Bathrooms: Roca
Flooring: Listone Giordano, Mutina
Walls: American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC)
Cutlery: Casa Gay
Fabrics: Kvadrat, Teixidors
Suppliers: Airlan, Ascensores Jordá, Cementos Molins, Daikin, Gres Aragón tiles and ceramics, Grundfos, Riba Massanell carpentry
Photo credits: Lluc Miralles EMBT, Jason Keith & Paola Acevedo – Fundacio Kālida

When social dynamics and functional organization are implemented by the creative process, we can talk about a truly successful operation. But when the project touches on aspects of human care, quality of life, integration, inclusion and assistance, made concrete by the self-effacing contributions of multiple players, the action can even take on noble, exemplary character. This is the case of the Kālida Sant Pau Centre in Barcelona, an assistance facility with a very particular approach, which opened in May to offer support to cancer patients, their relatives and their caregivers. A pioneering program, in the making for about ten years, guided by Fundació Nous Cims and Fundació Privada Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, supported by Fundació de Gestió Sanitària de l’Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau. As well as the international organization Maggie’s, whose work and services have been an inspiration, in collaboration with the initiative.

With specialized personnel for oncological, psychological, nursing and therapeutic support, Kālida Sant Pau offers emotional, practical and social care completely free of charge, without the need for any medical input. The action is complementary to hospital therapy protocols – the structure is located near the oncological center of Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau – to help patients manage a series of emotions like anguish, pain, isolation, but also tolerance to treatments, nutritional and fitness care, making them feel they are understood and accompanied in a context of sharing. Comfort and aesthetics of spaces and buildings, of course, become decisive to convey a sense of protection, privacy and domestic atmosphere, and in this case they are the result of the contribution of all the people who have worked ‘pro bono,’ without payment, for the good of all.

Kālida Sant Pau Centre, Barcelona
Kālida Sant Pau Centre, Barcelona
Kālida Sant Pau Centre, Barcelona

The concept of ‘caring architecture’ developed by Benedetta Tagliabue (Miralles Tagliabue EMBT studio), in the wake of her personal experience with the illness experienced by her late companion in life and work, Enric Miralles, involves a Garden Pavilion that blurs indoor-outdoor boundaries. An area of 400 square meters on two levels – where the kitchen is the central focus – surrounded by a garden of 600, whose main access connects the structure to the adjacent Oncological Unit: open, flexible spaces ‘embraced’ by dense vegetation that makes the hospital context seem to disappear, offering patients a place to spend time with a certain degree of privacy. The facade, a wall of ceramic brick, allows light to enter and provides suitable ventilation. A pleasing ornamental effect is generated by a composition of ceramic pieces with different textures, colors and geometric lines, establishing a bond with the bordering modernist building.

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Kālida Sant Pau Centre, Barcelona
Kālida Sant Pau Centre, Barcelona

The interior design is intimate and dynamic, created by Patricia Urquiola to produce flexible spaces in dialogue with the architecture of Benedetta Tagliabue: “We have worked on the hexagonal shape of the plan, which suggested a subdivision of spaces for different tasks,” the designer says. “From there, we visualized functional spaces and open configurations that take form in a heterogeneous but operative setting, where different levels of privacy become possible. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming, like a home, thanks to ‘soft’ colors and materials like wood and ceramic, creating a familiar atmosphere. We have tried to introduce a chromatic language to transmit a dynamic, positive feeling.”

Patricia Urquiola has gotten many design brands involved, which have donated some of their creations. These include Listone Giordano with the Biscuit oak flooring, Mutina and its extraordinary ceramics to form a carpet below the table, Gan with a series of sofas and informal rugs, Kettal with outdoor-indoor furnishings, Bulthaup with the beautiful kitchen and table for socializing. Other supporters include: Flos and Santa&Cole for lighting, Andreu World for sofas, seating and tables, Viccarbe for office tables and other pieces, Moroso, Cappellini, Arlex, Roca, Kvadrat. A special note should be made for companies like Airlan, Ascensores Jordá, Riba Massanell for carpentry, Daikin, Grundfos, and Gres Aragón tiles and ceramics. Thanks to these firms, it has been possible to obtain materials of the highest quality at very low prices. Cementos Molins provided the concrete and has financed part of the kitchen.

Kālida Sant Pau Centre, Barcelona