Citadel of care

A new hospital in a sensitive location in Israel combines a state of the art, wellness-oriented healthcare facility with a design for resilience against attacks. Roseanne Field reports


ituated in Ashdod, a large city in southern Israel, the Samson Assuta Ashdod University Hospital is the first public healthcare facility Israel has seen completed in 40 years. Ashdod’s location just 25 km north of the Gaza Strip means that it’s also a potential target for long-range attacks. As a result, the hospital has been designed to be able to continue operation even under rocket fire. Despite this threat, the population has grown quickly in recent years, with increas- ing levels of immigration, making Ashdod the fastest growing city in Israel. A major health- care facility, and one which included an A&E, was desperately required. “There were 300,000 people having to travel 40 minutes or more to get to a hospital,” explains Davide Macullo, founder of the Swiss-based architec- tural practice which bears his name. “It was not possible anymore.” The hospital has been planned to serve half a million residents of the city as well as the surrounding region. The practice was appointed by client

Assuta, a subsidiary company of Maccabi Group. They visited another project the architects had worked on – Vimercate Hospital, just outside Milan – and were reportedly “excited” by what they saw. The practice had also worked on various ‘health and wellness’ hotels. Given its location, and being the first project of its type built in the country for decades, this project held a lot of significance. “Of course, there were a lot of expectations,” says Macullo. “The team that had been appointed for the construction were under pressure, from a point of view of feasibility and time schedule.” According to Macullo, despite the lack of

healthcare facilities in Ashdod, Israel is “very competitive” in the sector, and so the ultimate objective was a state of the art hospital that was a success on all fronts, as he explains. This meant working closely with advisors from all necessary fields and competencies – who would ultimately employ the staff working in the building – and keeping the needs of the patients in mind. Most of the staff didn’t join the hospital until it was completed which, says Macullo, was one of the biggest challenges of the project. This ‘advanced digital hospital’ has a wide range of departments, in common with many major facilities of its type. There are 12 operating theatres, as well as A&E, ICU and imaging, and eight labour and delivery rooms.

The building, part of Assuta’s chain of facilities, includes two ‘Centres of Excellence’ – a Community Cancer Centre, and a Heart Centre. The former includes advanced imaging, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, IMRT equipment, and outpa- tient clinics.

The Heart Centre integrates clinical services with ongoing research and education programmes with the aim of promoting disease prevention and rehabilitation in the community. It includes a sophisticated coronary care unit and cardiac catheterisa- tion lab, as well as imaging, diagnostic units, and clinics. As well as being close to the city it serves physically, the hospital also closely integrates research and academics, who have their own facilities on the site.

A ‘feel good’ hospital

Macullo speaks highly of the close-knit team that worked on the project. “It was a



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