Tartu University Hospital

Tartu University Hospital

Recycling and renewing – renovation of Tartu University Hospital advances in stages.

As the only university hospital in Estonia, Tartu University Hospital (TÜK) needed to renovate and expand their existing hospital facilities. In doing that, they wanted to follow latest international hospital design principles and build modern facilities to enable efficient and functional healthcare services.  

Situated in Tartu city, the hospital and its extension area are located in a challenging hospital environment. The building complex also includes historically valuable features as well as old hospital buildings. The new buildings include facilities designed for cardiology, eye clinic, internal medicine department, endoscopy department, hospital pharmacy, laboratory, and new radiotherapy.

Focusing on functionality and flexibility 

At the beginning of the project, a long-term development plan for the hospital complex was drawn up. The main idea was to “recycle” what was recyclable, but at the same time renew obsolete parts with poor usability. 

The complete redesign of the hospital area provided an opportunity to reorganise people and material logistics for the entire hospital. The operational goal was to introduce new multi-purpose space concepts that enhance nursing work. For the treatment processes, versatility and flexibility were the main aims of the design. Improving technical conversion flexibility and creating a new customer-oriented atmosphere in the building were also emphasised in the design.  

The designers examined international examples of the main principles of hospital planning, and the most suitable for the Tartu Children’s Hospital, Day Surgery unit, ENT (ear, nose, and throat) and cardiology units were further developed to serve Tartu’s requirements. 

In the functional planning, the hospital designers defined the main processes for the different patient groups in close cooperation with the personnel. The designers also estimated the number of personnel needed for the patient service production, defined the number of rooms and beds needed for the patients and support processes and draw the connection charts and schematic layouts of the departments according to the processes. 

Sustainability and natural light as key elements of the architecture 

In the architecture, the main theme is a strong reformed network of inner streets and lobbies, which will significantly improve mobility and orientation in the building from the perspective of patients. The focus of the exterior architecture has been the timelessness and sustainability of the facade surfaces. In 2016, the interior design of the renovation phase 2 won the Estonian Association of Interior Architects’ annual award. 

The key goal of the interior has been to bring natural light inside the deep building frame through glass-roofed lobbies and inner streets. Wood surfaces and white shades and gloss levels have been widely used in the interior. All client, staff and material traffic of the hospital has been situated into a new indoor street.  

Achieving goals step by step 

The renovation of Tartu University Hospital has taken place in several stages. With the help of hospital designers, Tartu University Hospital was able to involve the staff in planning and update their plans based on the best international practices in the conceptional and functional planning. After the validation of the plans, Tartu University Hospital was able to move forward with their updated plans and start the renovating project and the constructions of the new buildings. 

Project in numbers:

  • Located in Tartu, Estonia
  • Design phase: 2011 – 2021
  • Construction phase: 2012 – 2023
  • Client: Tartu University Clinic
  • Project size: 59,500 m2 gross area
  • New wards accommodate about 260 beds.
  • All wards have teaching facilities for the University of Tartu Faculty of Medicine.

IHDA partners working together in Tartu university hospital: 

  • Nordic Healthcare Group – Concept planning of the renovation project and support in the functional planning and programming of the new Children’s Clinic building, the new Day Surgery and ENT (ear, nose, and throat) building and the new cardiology building 

  • AW2 Architects – Main and architectural design together with INTEGRATED and Conarte Ltd, interior design, Functional design in cooperation with Nordic Healthcare Group, Interior design (Estonian Association of Interior Architects’ annual award for the renovation phase 2, 2016) 

  • Integrated Healthcare Design – Medical Technology supervision 


Matti Anttila 
Principal designer, AW2 Architects  
+358 40 861 3740  

Antti Alho 
Senior partner, Nordic Healthcare Group  
+358 40 534 6658 

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