Orbis Medical Center

Sittard-Geleen, NL

How does a patient heal the fastest?


Orbis (Zuyderland) Medisch Centrum

In the year 2000, Abe Bonnema was asked to develop a revolutionary new hospital concept, a ‘hospital of the 21st century’, in which the patient would be central in every way. Bonnema was commissioned precisely because he had no experience with hospitals. The hospital concept could be completely reimagined, without the burden of tradition.

In Orbis, the patient is central to all aspects of hospitalisation

Development of a new hospital concept: five years of preparation and four years of construction

The best care, with optimal rest, means single rooms only

To compensate for the extra space for the stations (patient rooms and corridors), other functions sacrifice space

One of the main findings of the research into a new hospital concept was that sleep and rest are essential for the recovery and well-being of patients. This led to the desire to equip the hospital exclusively with single rooms.

The extra space required for this was found through a different organisation of the space in other places. A ‘new way of working’ was introduced: many hospital staff exchanged their own room for a flexible working environment.

Orbis Medical Center

In the design of Orbis (now Zuyderland) Medical Centre in Sittard, the patient is central. That sounds very logical, but it turned out that consistent enforcement of this principle turned upside down a lot of automatic thinking. This resulted in a hospital with only single rooms, with living rooms in the corridors where people can meet, and a vibrant atrium that brings the building to life.

The choice was made for a building with a linear structure, in which the axis is formed by a central covered ‘street’. All directly public and patient-oriented functions are adjacent to this. This street is a covered public area that also offers possibilities for extension or filling in, without having to make concessions to the mutual relationships between the functional centres. Flexibility was a keyword in the design process. In addition to volume flexibility (expandability), there is conversion flexibility (the possibility to move functions) and also so-called initial flexibility (the freedom to decide on the final layout as late as possible). The choice for a technical intermediate layer was also a result of flexibility considerations.


Orbis Medical Center
Sittard-Geleen, NL
73.850 m²
Orbis Medisch en Zorgcentrum
De Beer Zwarts, Michel Kievits
More info