Neolith by TheSize has been specified by ALTIPLAN° architects for a façade renewal of the Saint Jean Hospital in Brussels.

Located on a busy intersection in one of Europe’s most congested cities, the renewal of the old stone façade was required not only to visually update the hospital, but also to deal with the heavy noise and pollution levels surrounding it.

Based on the durability, energy efficiency and aesthetic qualities of Neolith slabs, the sintered compact surface was specified to update the hospital’s exterior façade and the internal fit out of its parking space.

Selecting a cladding material that could withstand the test of traffic in central Brussels was a fundamental factor for architect Phillip de Roos when specifying Neolith.

Roos said: "In such a highly polluted area, the mineral composition and nonporous nature of the slabs makes them resistant, hygienic and avoids the triggering of any bacteria or fungus; ideal for a medical environment."

Easy to clean, they can be rid of dirt, pollutants and graffiti, all while being unaffected by any chemical cleaning agent. Alongside this resilient exterior of the Neolith slabs, their thinness and large formats also allow for easy installation to create a ventilated façade.

Roos added: "Thermal insulation for the offices and hospital areas was also crucial in order to create a comfortable environment for the patients and employees. Using thin Neolith slabs fixed on a VM system created a 15cm space between the building and the façade, allowing for not only increased thermal insulation, but acoustic insulation and permeability. As a result of this gap, a ventilated façade can improve the economy of a building and, in this particular case, attribute to the energy efficiency of the hospital."

The multi-layered property of a ventilated façade is not only a great tool for significantly reducing thermal fluctuations, but also for limiting noise levels. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), at least 1 million healthy life years are lost each year in Western Europe due to health effects arising from noise exposure to road traffic.The aim to reduce noise levels within the Saint Jean Hospital was a step in the right direction to make the refurbishment effective for its patients in every aspect.

While appealing to the needs of energy efficiency and durability, the aesthetic result of the façade renewal was uncompromised, and is nothing short of striking.

Roos explains: "We specified Nieve and Nero panels to create a sleek monochrome exterior that kept the modular rhythm of the superior windows and created a random game of two tones.

"Following this pattern through to the ceiling of the interior parking spaces, the building now possesses a consistent aesthetic and can remain constantly architecturally and structurally relevant."