Reconstructing Pavilion H of the once innovative Tony Garnier medical complex at a time when hospital concentration is rife is not only unprecedented, but perhaps a way forward. For it must be admitted that while today's large-scale unitary facilities may suffer from a certain amount of sprawl, here the concentricity of this new technical platform offers extremely efficient functionalities around its vital axis. This perhaps foreshadows the future of the zero-bed ambulatory hospital, where convalescence, facilitated by the advent of digital technology, would take place elsewhere, in the city. It is therefore undoubtedly a fine reverence for the virtuoso of the city of the future that the management of the Hospices Civiles de Lyon has decided to revitalise its hospital in the heart of the city.
The functional room for manoeuvre is limited in this exercise, the limits are already set by the organisation of the block, the number of floors imposed by the velum of the neighbouring pavilions and the functional arrangements dictated by the proximity of the emergency department within Building N.
The Edouard Heriot Hospital is based on Tony Garnier's functionalist concept of the ideal city. This concept was based on the idea that each building had a specific function and architecture. In this city, the repetitive architectural design of the pavilions was due to the uniformity of their accommodation function, which hygienism led to fragmentation, and where the opening of spaces to light and the use of vegetation governed the choice of composition.
The construction of a highly medical-technical building, a programme that did not exist at the time, encouraged the architect to play with the initial urban rule, without seeking to mimic or erase it, but rather to write a contemporary architecture that is free, specific, but respectful.
The glass-clad facades, accepting all kinds of occupation for the time to come, voluntarily detach themselves from the signifier of the heavy hospital function, the interventional plateau. Screen-printed with a silver drawing of floral forms, inspired by the works of the traditional silk factories of Lyon, the façades interact with their heritage and plant context through a complex play of reflections and transparencies.
The architecture is resolutely contemporary and sophisticated without cheating the historical urban rule so that the hospital enters the 21st century with efficiency, elegance and respect.
© Brunet Saunier Architecture