Connecting the seemingly separate

One of the largest hospitals in the Netherlands, the University Medical Centre Utrecht, is set for a large-scale renovation. Over the next few years, the various buildings within the UMC Utrecht complex will undergo extensive upgrades to unify logistics, elevate experiential value, and align with the diverse needs of its stakeholders: patients, visitors, medical and nursing staff, residents, support personnel, and researchers.

Client

University Medical Centre Utrecht

Partners

Architect: atelier Pro

© Irvin van Hemert, courtesy of UMC Utrecht

View on the sprawling UMC Utrecht campus from the sky.

Renovating a healthcare complex

Originally designed by EGM in 1989, the existing UMC Utrecht building complex has undergone multiple expansions and modifications, resulting in a cluttered layout.

Atelier PRO was tasked with devising a visual quality masterplan, starting with the UMC’s children’s hospital, which will serve as the blueprint for the entire complex. Complementing this masterplan, Silo developed a spatial branding strategy that brings UMC Utrecht’s values to life while enhancing the user experience.

The spatial brand guide serves as an addition to the visual quality masterplan developed by atelier PRO. At the same time, it aligns with the guiding principles of the UMC Utrecht Brand Compass, an elaboration of its mission and strategy.

Why spatial branding for a hospital matters

Spatial branding entails the tangible manifestation of the UMC Utrecht brand within its physical environment. It involves elements within, on, and around UMC Utrecht buildings in which users can recognise the brand values or how the brand communicates. Whether explicit or implicit, functional or emotional, spatial branding is essential for creating a cohesive and identifiable brand experience, particularly within a healthcare facility.

A consistent and pleasant user experience

Our approach is a response to design inconsistencies observed throughout the complex, characterised by excessive material and colour contrast, and information overload. The corporate identity of UMC Utrecht lacks effective guidance for interior elements to create a cohesive brand experience.

Through spatial branding, we seek to deliver a consistent, pleasant user experience by fostering calmness, clarity, and a distinct UMC Utrecht identity.

Connection is everywhere

The key message of our strategy is that UMC Utrecht connects different worlds: patients and healthcare professionals; researchers and doctors, students and society, regional care and global developments, and tomorrow’s innovation and today’s reality. Connection is truly everywhere. And even things that at first glance appear to be separate are ultimately connected and influence each other. The marvellous and wondrous nature of these connections, whether on a very large or microscopic scale, is the underlying concept for spatial branding within the UMC Utrecht facilities.

Spatial brand guide

The strategy has been outlined in a spatial brand guide. This document details all brand-related aspects of UMC Utrecht’s interior that convey the organisation’s beliefs and values. This includes wayfinding and signage, information booths, wall designs, digital screens, and more. The guide serves as a compass, ensuring a consistent experience for everyone across all spaces within UMC Utrecht. The children’s hospital within UMC Utrecht will be the inaugural project to follow this spatial brand guide.

© Sandra Stokmans, courtesy of UMC Utrecht

Current view of one atria in UMC Utrecht. In their approach, atelier PRO applied an urban planning way of thinking, distinguishing between a 'baseline' and 'counterpoints' in the interior.

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