Farrow unveils design of Israel’s newest cancer centre in Jerusalem

Rendering courtesy of Farrow.
Rendering courtesy of Farrow.

Canadian architecture firm Farrow has unveiled the design for Israel’s newest cancer centre, located on a prominent site in the heart of Jerusalem.

It is the first phase of Farrow’s three million square foot master plan for Shaare Zedek Medical Centre (SZMC) campus, which was completed in April 2016. The 75,000 square foot centre will offer radiation treatment as a complement to present chemotherapy services on the campus.

The centre’s luminous, uplifting design advances SZMC’s stated purpose for the master plan to “facilitate a better future for the people of Jerusalem and Israel.” Shaare Zedek is Jerusalem’s fastest growing hospital and the only major medical facility in the city’s centre. The plan enables SZMC to expand their role as a Centre of Influence in actively creating their future as well as a Centre of Excellence in treating illness.

During a series of interactive workshops, the desire to “maintain the feeling of an intimate hospital while in a big hospital, to provide places in the facility to develop relationships between people, and be welcoming to a diverse population” emerged as important themes.

Farrow’s approach to ensuring a better future takes a bigger view of design for health. “We set out to create a campus where people can thrive and prosper, rather than cope and survive,” says Farrow. “The design embodies SZMC’s dedication to advanced medicine infused with human compassion, emphasizing the human touch and connections to nature.”

This way of thinking raises expectations for design as the basis for total health, which extends beyond technical sustainability and physical health to encompass our state of mind. Farrow’s “ultimate test for design” addresses the question, “does it cause health?” This test emphasizes that a better future will be built on more than asking: “does it do no harm?” or “does it alleviate disease?” The Cause Health view aims to make the most of human assets and capabilities—regardless of their current state—and engages us in building on these strengths to optimize health.

Rendering courtesy of Farrow.
Rendering courtesy of Farrow.

Aligned with this active Cause Health approach, the cancer centre evokes the shape and movement of a butterfly. Thus it calls to mind the transformative nature of a creature that can ultimately fly. This optimistic vision is reinforced through soaring “wings” that radiate an abundance of filtered natural light. The sense of hope and protection—of being in good hands—is evident in this nurturing habitat for staff, patients and family who use the centre.

These life-enhancing qualities further aim to generate energy, social connection, enhanced self-esteem and mutual respect. The active Cause Health view holds that we need places that are loveable, not just sustainable. “What we build reflects how we see ourselves,” says Farrow. He believes that debates over medical care efficiencies, wait times, and delivery systems have obscured the much larger question of how to reduce overall usage of and dependence on medical services. The movement to cause health seeks to reduce the current burden of illness on society.

Construction will commence with the excavation of the site in June 2017. Farrow is collaborating with Jerusalem-based Rubenstein Ofer Architects for this project. This is Farrow’s fourth project in Israel, having designed buildings in the country since 2006.