The new Kālida Sant Pau building in front of the hospital's oncology department Photo: Lluc Miralles
The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) has supported the construction of the new care centre for cancer patients Kālida Sant Pau in Barcelona by donating American tulipwood. Treating the wood with thermal modification gives it exceptional resistance to weather conditions, making it ideally suited for outdoor use.
The new Kālida Sant Pau building is located just a few steps away from the Hospital de Sant Pau Oncology Department. The cancer care centre aims to make people with cancer feel supported and informed throughout the different phases of cancer treatment. It promotes a psychosocial care model that is centred around the needs of the individual and provides support for family members, friends and carers as well as for patients.
Wood from AHEC for the outdoor pergola and the facade
The wood boards form small triangles and are framed by a steel structure. Photo: Lluc Miralles
AHEC has donated American tulipwood for two spaces in the new building – the outdoor pergola and trellised facade. The wood used is thermally modified and is rated excellent for its weather resistance. The building is designed by architect Benedetta Tagliabue from Miralles Tagliabue EMBT studio, with interior design created by architect and interior designer Patricia Urquiola.
The walkway under the pergola creates a space through which visitors pass to reach the main entrance. The tulipwood boards form small triangles and are framed by a steel structure, offering textural contrasts to the outdoor area. The trellised facade consists of horizontal thermo-treated tulipwood slats that offer views of the Hospital de Sant Pau complex whilst still preserving the patients’ privacy. “The use of thermo-treated tulipwood was an excellent choice for the outdoor elements of the Kālida Sant Pau building because it has allowed us to add elegant wood elements and we have been able to use it in an optimum way for exterior applications,” says architect Benedetta Tagliabue.
Thermo-treated wood for exterior applications
The trellised facade consists of horizontal slats that offer views of the hospital complex whilst still preserving the patients’ privacy. Photo: Lluc Miralles
Thermally modified wood performs better and has increased durability, allowing it to be used in exterior applications without the need for additional protection. The treatment process consists of gradually heating the wood to a temperature of 180-215°C for three to four days.
This process reduces the timber moisture content significantly to 4-6 per cent and changes the physical structure of the wood, which limits its moisture absorption capacity. This provides the products with more dimensional stability and means they are less susceptible to twisting or losing their shape with changes in humidity. The thermal modification process also destroys the hemicelluloses and carbohydrates in the wood, which are the main food sources for insects and moulds. This makes the wood more resistant to rot without the need for surface treatments. In addition, the wood acquires an attractive dark colour.
“We believe that this technology is key for using wood in exterior applications,” says David Venables, European Director of AHEC. “The market is growing, and designers and architects want to use wood, but for this to happen, it has to perform well, look good and last, or it simply won’t be used. Thermo-treated wood doesn’t use chemical products; it improves stability and has a minimal environmental impact compared to other techniques. We are delighted to have collaborated on the Kālida Sant Pau building and with this fantastic social initiative.”