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Italy: A hospital of the future for Padua

Published 21.2.2024

The engineering team at Techint Engineering & Construction in Milan is working on the planning for an interregional complex healthcare hub that will only be operational by the end of the decade. Project Manager Daniele Morgera explains what’s involved in the initial design stages for these state-of-the-art premises.


A technologically advanced hospital complex located in Padua’s Polo Giustiniani, the Polo della Salute di Padova Est, is a bold, forward-looking project that meets an important community need and will position Padua as the leading health center in the Veneto region. Techint E&C’s engineering team are on the consortium tasked with the challenging job of planning the design of this multipurpose premises, which will service inpatient and outpatient needs and includes an innovative medical research tower linked to the University of Padua.

Daniele Morgera, Head of the Civil & Buildings Department at Techint E&C, is managing the company’s 20-strong team which has just completed the first phase of feasibility design, working with the other members of the consortium. Led by Politecnica Ingegneria ed Architettura, the consortium also includes Cooprogetti and ATI Project, all companies with whom Techint E&C has partnered for many other healthcare projects in Italy.

Using Building Information Modelling (BIM) and other cutting-edge design modelling, the challenge for the team designing this hospital of the future is to plan a layout that is both functional and flexible, taking into account the rapid advances in medicine and technology expected over the next decade, which is the time planned for construction to be completed. The footprint of the new hospital, billed as the largest healthcare complex in Italy, covers an area of over 200,000 square meters, and the facilities will have nearly 1,000 beds, 45 technological operating rooms, an entire tower dedicated to the ICU, wards and patient care, and a day center for outpatients, including minor surgical procedures, as well as the research tower.

Morgera explains that the company won the tender to work on the first phase at the end of 2022. “The scope of work of this initial phase, which we’ve just completed, was the feasibility study, an incredible challenge because of the sheer size of this project. Our remit is to design the structure, including the electrical systems and instrumentation. Now we’re waiting for the authorities to inform the stakeholders at a scheduled public meeting and authorize us to start on the second phase.”

At this point in time, one of the main priorities is to ensure transport access and logistics to integrate the complex as much as possible into a busy city of over 200,000 inhabitants, as the project will have a profound impact on the local community, radically changing the look and feel of the city as a whole.

According to Morgera, as the hospital will be a focal point for the whole region, the design of the area had to take into account a nearby train station with a pedestrian overpass, the highway running close by, a large parking lot and a dedicated tram line. “Coordinating the interface with all these different aspects took a long time as it involved a number of different stakeholders, but we’ve come up with a plan that seamlessly integrates all these different forms of access and arrival,” says Morgera.

No less important is the proximity of the University of Padua Medical School, one of the most prestigious in Italy, which will be linked to the complex through a dedicated walkway leading to an innovative research tower. This is a crucial aspect of forward planning, as research drives medical advances and the dedicated facilities will offer unique opportunities to fast-track the transfer of research into clinical activities.

With the first phase complete, the team is preparing to launch the second phase which will involve Front-End Engineering Design. “We’re having a big meeting in January to present the results so far, then we’ll be working on the FEED phase, which should be complete in about four months, according to the contract. The expectation is that after that, it will take some four to six months to get all the permits necessary, as this is quite a slow bureaucratic process, so we’re looking at the end of 2024,” summarizes Morgera.

One of the aspects which proved to be the most challenging of the feasibility study was the fire protection system, which involved input from the safety control perspective and included the location of fire doors, instructions for using anti-inflammatory construction materials, compartmentalization, exits and fire escapes, and a sophisticated technological fire safety alert and response system.

Another challenge involved taking into account the likely technological advances, not only in the field of medicine, but also in healthcare in general over the next ten years. For instance, the use of delivery robots to help with nursing, able to ferry medication, supplies, lab samples and other supplies along corridors and between floors. Daniele also mentions how they designed the roof of the facilities to function as a landing area, not only for helicopters bringing in patients and organs for transplants, but also for drones, which in the future will play a far greater role in delivering supplies and time-sensitive inputs such as organs, perhaps even transporting patients.

“You have to be really flexible at this stage, so that things can be technologically updated over time without this impacting on basic structural design,” explains Morgera. “The focus was on drawing up a functional layout to minimize as much as possible the movement between the different medical areas. We did everything using BIM, so we had over 6,200 different kinds of room layouts to design and render using 3D to show doctors and other medical professionals what we’re doing, to give them a sense of how their future workspace is going to be organized,” Morgera points out.

Positioned as a sustainable building, thanks to a careful choice of materials, the technologically advanced complex will ensure high-energy performance. Along the same lines, as the hospital is in a zone prone to flooding, the design had to contemplate the possibility of extreme climatic and weather events, resulting in a proposal to raise the buildings and enable water to continue flowing below.

Finally, Morgera shares: “It’s amazing to have had the opportunity to be a part of this planning stage. The greater the complexity of the challenge, the more enriching it is!”

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