The hospital architecture increasingly introduces modular system solutions in its design process, as in the case of modular operating rooms, due to the need to respond to the new demands of society, both in the public and private sectors.
The advancement of construction systems and technology, allows to adjust budgets and designing spaces of greater efficiency in health centers. Precisely, the design of surgical areas and their adjoining spaces in hospitals is one of the main elements that determine the effectiveness and performance of a hospital.
Let’s see the main characteristics of modular design.
What is the modular design?
The modular design consists of a combination of design techniques and state-of-the-art technology for maximum use of resources. In this way it is possible to provide maximum benefit to all the users of the hospital.
The main characteristics of modular systems are the search for maximum functionality, comfort, safety, economy, durability and aesthetics.
This type of construction can be applied at different scales in a health center. From furniture or accessories to the design of research laboratories, administrative areas, intensive care unit or modular operating rooms, among others.
The systems of panels and modules, in spite of being prefabricated units, provide a wide variety of dimensions and finishes, and allow the incorporation of different models of interior carpentry.
They are designed and manufactured taking into account the needs of the different hospital areas, so they are compatible with the specialized equipment of the health centers and the facilities that involve the different areas of a hospital.
In its construction process, aspects such as the intensity of use, maintenance, renovation or the possibility of making extensions or modifications in the configuration of the spaces are also taken into account.
The application of this type of construction systems is very broad. However, this time we will focus on the design of modular operating rooms.
Modular operating rooms
Among the different units of a hospital, some of the areas with greatest collapses are the areas of surgical intervention.
These spaces require the simultaneous start-up of different units and human resources for their daily operation and the patients who go through the operating room usually stay several days or weeks admitted to the hospital.
That is why the efficiency of the operating rooms and the recovery of patients are two key factors to improve the profitability of our hospitals. One of the main tools to improve these indicators is innovation in the design of operating theaters and their service areas.
Areas of an operating room
The operating rooms are composed of three areas:
1. Transition area (or black area): this is the area where patients are received.
2. Semi-restricted area (or grey area): access is restricted and it is necessary to use surgical clothing. It includes pharmacy zones, storage of surgical instrumentation and access to operating rooms.
3. Restricted area (or white area): the operating room and its access corridors are sterilized. It is an area of restricted access and in which the doors must remain closed at all times.
Criteria for the construction of modular operating rooms
The modular operating rooms are based on a system of modular panels prepared to meet the specific requirements of this type of hospital space.
These are constructive elements with a wide resistance and durability, as well as a demanding antibacterial profile, to create hygienic spaces that guarantee healthiness. In addition, they offer the ideal isolation for modular operating rooms to have the required tightness.
In this way the modular operating rooms allow a saving of construction time and are removable panel to panel independently. It is thus possible to incorporate new facilities and carry out the maintenance of them. They also facilitate integration with technical and control supports, such as lighting management or medical gases.
Let’s see the different elements that make up the modular operating rooms:
The substructure is the skeleton of the panels to which the wall and ceiling elements are sealed, in order to create the required pressure conditions in the surgical areas.
It consists of floor rails, roof rails and cavities for the passage of facilities. The floor rails consist of steel profiles and are fixed by clamping plates. The roof rails are composed of painted extruded aluminum profiles and are prepared to insert the upper wall elements.
The cavities for the passage of facilities such as electricity, water or gases, are those that are generated between the wall elements.
WALL ELEMENTS AND FACILITIES
The wall elements can be easily disassembled and reinstalled, minimizing the operating room downtime.
In addition, the flexibility of modular elements allows a more organized arrangement of facilities, such as switches or plugs.
We find different types of wall elements. On the one hand the general elements, made of powder coated stainless steel attached to a plasterboard panel. In a module we would have a lower wall element, one for installations and another for an upper wall.
On the other hand, there are glass elements, which do not have a frame and consist of thermally tempered safety glass. These glass elements can be combined with the general elements and distributed in the space with the same flexibility.
The false ceiling of modular operating rooms consists of individual metal cassettes that integrate the different systems of facilities, such as air conditioning, medical gases or the electrical network, allowing easy access.
It is a roof system that can be easily disassembled and reinstalled and that in turn allows the lighting of rooms to be integrated naturally, avoiding hanging elements.
The finishes presented by the panels are very wide, including the printing of images, which allows choosing the most appropriate image for each area of the operating room and creating more pleasant spaces for users, for example in the transition area.
As we can see, modular operating rooms represent a constructive solution with great strength, flexibility of design and hygiene. In some countries such as Germany or Italy they represent a very advanced technology for the hospital sector.
As always, end by recalling CASA SOLO’s commitment to the design and construction of current and future surgical spaces.
As architects, our work can contribute to improving the quality of life of people, integrating design and health in the most natural way possible.