“Spain built a lot of new buildings over the last three decades, more than anyone else in Europe,” says architect Antonio Ocaña. “This includes infrastructure that we didn’t have – airports, public buildings, hospitals – and the expertise that Spanish professionals have accumulated in every area of construction has made us highly valued abroad.”
Ocaña, a partner in Madrid-based Aidhos Arquitec, is one of the professionals who are taking advantage of the new opportunities. He and his firm tend to spend more time working on projects in Portugal, the Middle East, Colombia or Peru than at home. Aidhos has expertise in the area of health care, particularly in the architecture and engineering of hospitals.
“When we design hospitals, we are looking at areas like flexibility, functionality, modularity and the separation of flows,” he says, noting that thousands of people – for different reasons – populate hospitals every day of the year. “All these uses create complexity, and when we design hospitals, we try to design them rationally and with simplicity,” he says. “This specialization is needed.”
One Aidhos project was the massive Puerta de Hierro Hospital in Majadahonda, just outside
-Madrid. It took 30 months to complete the project, from the ground up. “We used a fast-track system where we were designing at the same time as building,” he says.
Aluminium systems were very much part of the project, because they support the needs of the building. “We’ve also used aluminium in facades in hospitals like IMQ Bilbao and in the Maternity of Oporto in Portugal,” he says.
“Hospitals deteriorate relatively quickly, so it is necessary to design spaces with resistant materials,” Ocaña says. “Aluminium is competitive because it is resistant, light and nice at the same time. It is useful both outside and inside the building. I’m sure the industry is looking for new applications too.”
Aidhos Arquitec turns 25 years old in 2016. This age matches the useful lifetime of a hospital, says Ocaña, who believes that refurbishment is going to become more prevalent in the health care segment.
“With the deceleration of investment in new infrastructure, I think it is quite reasonable to expect growth in the refurbishment of hospitals in the next few years,” he says.
Photo: Luis Cerderia