The spaceship has landed
University Hospital Maastricht: The spaceship has landed!
University Hospital Maastricht is the youngest of its kind in the Netherlands. The original plans date from 1968, but the new hospital was only completed in 1990. It has continued to expand since then and currently employs some 6,000 people. The hospital is now part of the Maastricht Health Campus, a collaboration between the faculties of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences and Psychology and Neuroscience at Maastricht University, the province of Limburg and some 40 companies.
Treatment, nursing, research and education comprise the core tasks of University Hospital Maastricht. In addition to offering standard patient care, the hospital also offers specialised clinical and referral care. These have been aligned with fundamental and experimental and other clinical research, which have manifested in four key clinical areas: cardiovascular disease, chronic illness and oncology, mental healthcare and neuroscience, and primary care.
Holland Hospital Architects designed the new hospital, which was constructed relatively quickly on the outskirts of Maastricht. In terms of size and scale, this building transcends the structural limits of the city, giving the impression that a spaceship has landed in Maastricht. The complex also functions as a city within a city; a company that is fully operational 24 hours a day. Due to its immense size and functionality, the complex was designed as an orthogonal city with covered streets and squares. The complex nature of the hospital is reflected in clearly demarcated zones for nursing, treatment, research and education. For logistical continuity, the design incorporates a clear network of streets and squares. The squares contain the building’s vertical elevation points, such as stairs and elevators, and were designed to facilitate personal interaction. For patients and visitors, these central meeting points offer an area for reflection; for students and staff they become a hub for knowledge exchange.
It is essential that not only the patients and visitors, but also the staff should feel comfortable in the building complex. The organisation’s ability to operate at a leading scientific level rests on its ability to retain highly trained and qualified staff. University Hospital Maastricht is an academic institution with a unique way of transferring knowledge to its students: in addition to offering a practical learning environment, the hospital also applies the university’s problem-based learning method. Instead of traditional lecture-style instruction, the students are trained to collect information and develop their scientific knowledge independently in the form of research projects that are expected to yield results within a defined period. Students learn to how to answer research questions using the information they find in libraries and online. This method of knowledge acquisition helps them absorb and retain the material more quickly and more effectively. The result is outstanding academic performance on an international scale.
An academic building was developed with a prominent meeting and media centre that contains all of the necessary resources, such as books, journals, international dissertations, scientific documentaries, lectures and online workstations. This building also houses a skills lab the students can use to hone their practical skills and competencies. Perhaps the most important component of the academic building is the meeting centre where students and professors can exchange ideas and hold scientific discussions while sharing a meal. Very early on, students have access to a scientific environment in which interaction, stimulation and interdisciplinary knowledge exchange take centre stage.
The next step for the university hospital is to create a health campus. Excellent research, education and clinical care will be reflected in several innovative and ambitious plans where researchers, companies and consumers converge. Concrete projects are now possible thanks to widespread support, shared ambitions and a lot of perseverance. The Particle Therapy Centre, Living Lab Limburg (discussed in more detail in this magazine) and the Cardiovascular Centre are just a few examples of projects currently under development. Each new project serves to strengthen the foundations of the Maastricht Health Campus.