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Dimarts  25.02.2014  08:08

Barcelona unveils Art-Nouveau Hospital de Sant Pau premises after a 5-year renovation

Will become home of University of the UN, UN-Habitat, European Forest Institute, among others


The premises of Barcelona’s Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, the largest Art-Nouveau structure in Europe, were unveiled on Monday by the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, the Vice President of the European Commission, Viviane Reding, the Spanish Minister of Public Works, Ana Pastor, and the Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, amongst others.

The Hospital was designed by Catalan Architect Lluis Domenech i Montaner over a century ago and it was divided in a set of pavilions located in a park. It treated its very last patient in June 2009, before moving to new facilities. After 5 years of renovation works, the compound has become a center devoted to research and innovation, now hosting renowned international institutions, such as the University of the United Nations, UN-Habitat and the European Forest Institute. The site is also looking to become a major tourist attraction within the Modernist route of the Catalan capital, located less than 10-minutes away from the Sagrada Família. 120,000 visitors are expected each year. All the politicians present at the unveiling stressed that the rehabilitation was the result of a close collaboration between governments and institutions.

Total cost of €107 million

The total cost of the works will amount to €107 million, but so far €72 have been spent as 2 pavilions are currently still being restored and the works have yet to start for another 4. Almost 40% of the budget has been allocated by the Most Illustrious Administration (MIA), the consortium that owns the Hospital de Sant Pau. In addition, the Catalan Government and Barcelona’s City Council have provided an additional €6.2 million, the Spanish Government €20 million and the European Union FEDER fund €17 million. Jordi Baiget, the Catalan Government’s MIA Representative, explained that such a price is in the lower middle range for a building of this size, the largest European Art-Nouveau venue, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Baiget added that despite the costs, they’re not trying to profit from the building and that revenues will only be used for maintenance costs.

Up to 2,000 workers from internationally renowned institutions

The institutions that have settled in the hospital premises so far are the United Nations University (UNU), Casa Àsia, the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Forest Institute, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme UN-HABITAT, the Global University Network for Innovation (GUNi), and the Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA). For now, 200 people work inside the Hospital de Sant Pau, but when the venue is at full capacity it will be able to welcome more than 2,000 workers. In fact, more international institutions are expected to be based there. The site will also host cultural events such as concerts, or conferences and seminars.

35,500 indoors square meters and 27,700 outdoors square meters restored

The work was conducted with one major purpose in mind: reinforcing the structure and foundations of the hospital’s numerous pavilions - some over 100 years old and at risk of collapse - while also staying true to Modernist architect Domenech i Montaner’s original ideas and adapting them to the building’s new functions. Thus, isolation and wiring have been improved, notably by dismantling and concealing structures that had been added after the initial construction works.

Among the most significant restored spaces are the Administration pavilion, with its old Lluís Domènech i Montaner hall and its new conference rooms and auditoriums, such as the Hipòstila room. In addition, the underground tunnels that connect all of the pavilions together - one-kilometre long in all - and the Historical Archives of the hospital have also been renovated. In total, 35,500 square meters inside the various buildings and 27,700 square meters of outside space have been restored. Such works have required the involvement of 67 architecture firms employing 90 architects, 25 engineering offices, 103 construction companies, 20 rehabilitation firms, 3 stonemasons, and 37 partner companies specialized in landscaping, signage, or security infrastructure due to the presence of international diplomacy institutions on the grounds.

One of the most innovative improvements is the air conditioning. It is produced from geothermal energy extracted from more than 400 wells that are over 100 feet deep, and adapted for radiant floors, thereby avoiding any radiators or air conditioners. The Hospital de Sant Pau is one of the largest facilities in southern Europe to have installed such a system.

Visitors can access the hospital for free during its first three weeks of opening

As of Tuesday and for the next three weeks (until the16th of March) some of the hospital premises will be open freely to all: the pavilion of Administration, which is the main entrance to the building, the courtyard gardens and part of the restored pavilions. The working spaces of institutions will not be accessible to visitors. After the 16th of March, the hospital will be open from Mondays to Saturdays in the morning and the afternoon, and on Sunday mornings, with extended hours in the evening from April to October. The general admission fee will amount to €8, while guided visits, available in four different languages, will cost €14. Unemployed people, under 16s, and retired people holding the so-called ‘Pink Card’ will be able to access the hospital for free. The residents of the surrounding neighborhood will have unlimited access for €5 per year, while there will also be special cards available for other visitors for €30 or €50 per year.