The design for the Children’s Hospital “Pietro Barilla” in Parma, completed in January 2013, was inspired by the criteria of humanization and environmental psychology, reflecting the wishes of medical staff to create a place “designed around the children”, which was to be as homely as possible for the young patients.

As a consequence, the design synthesises health and functional needs with perceptual and psychological topics.

The double-skin facade becomes the architectural device that allows the interaction between the children and the environment.

The design aims to create a visual relationship between the building and its surroundings and to enhance the patients’ perception of natural phenomena: the sun moving as the hours of the day pass by, the colours of the leaves changing with the seasons…

The external layer of the facade, made of coloured vertical fins as well as transparent single glazing, reflects the surrounding context on the new hospital, whilst creating a buffer zone that allows for natural ventilation, improving indoor climate and reducing use of energy.

The colours chosen for the external layer recall the chromatic palette of the natural and urban context surrounding the hospital. According to the movement of the observer, the colours cross-fade dynamically, providing an ever-changing appearance to the facade.

The patient rooms are designed to re-create a familiar environment for the children who temporarily live in the hospital and to allow for views to the surrounding gardens.

The common areas have been positioned in order to open up internal views to the surrounding landscape and to allow natural light to penetrate into the building, thus facilitating the orientation of patients and visitors within the hospital.

The healthcare design for Pietro Barilla’s Hospital focuses on creating benefits on the day-to-day life of the children, their families, the staff and all the “inhabitants” of the new hospital.

Fondazione Ospedale dei Bambini di Parma

Project team:
Studio Nocera
Studio Q.S.A.
Studio Tecnico Zanni
Carlo Caleffi
Paolo Bertozzi
Giuseppe Virciglio

OBR design team:
Paolo Brescia and Tommaso Principi,
Pelayo Bustillo, Andrea Casetto, Giulia D’Ettorre,
François Doria, Elena Martinez, Elena Mazzocco,
Laura Mezquita González, Aleksandar Petrov,
Alessandro Piraccini, Michele Renzini,
Barbara Zuccarello

Mariela Apollonio


site area 6,000 sqm
built surface 13,000 sqm

2013 end of construction
2007 detailed design
2006 concept design
2006 preliminary design

2014 Building Healthcare Award for Best International Design, London