«Ceci n’est pas un hôpital» (This is not a hospital). This maxim was the inspiration for the architects planning the AZ Zeno hospital in the town of Knokke on the Belgian coast. Their idea is based on the philosophy of surrealist René Magritte. In 1929, underneath the naturalistic picture of a pipe, the artist wrote: «Ceci n’est pas une pipe» (This is not a pipe). In this way, the Belgian artist questioned traditional thinking patterns.

And the designers at AA Prog Architects, B2AI and Detoo architects & engineering, together with Ingenium for building services, obviously thought along similar lines. Ingenium opted for multimode OM4 or singlemode cabling to correspond with the transmission distance in each case and also in respect of the galvanic separation for the security of the patient on an operation table. In an architectural competition, they came up with a plan for a hospital that does not feel like a hospital. Not a bulky tower block that instills the fear of illness and sterile medicine. In fact, quite the opposite: an organic, aesthetic place of security and natural, holistic healthcare. 

Daylight fills every floor and every patient room. That saves energy as well as having a positive effect on the healing and recovery process. The patients enjoy the views over the dunes and green polder landscapes. Atria and parks are available to patients for relaxation.

Future-proof network

The technology behind the smart building is as pragmatic and sustainable as the building for traditional medicine is surreal. The local data network with its 10,000 links satisfies the requirements of current and future healthcare IT. «At an early stage of the planning phase, in 2014, we decided to install a future-proof network infrastructure,» explains engineer Tim Opsomer from engineering company Ingenium. The company is responsible for the building and network technology. Ingenium recommended a tried and tested solution offering resources for a long operational life and growing data traffic.

Tim Opsomer: «At the time we were very aware of the challenges we were facing with high-grade medical images quickly having to be transmitted across the network». This is why Ingenium recommended equipping the operating rooms with fiber optics. The plan also included a redundant server room being connected with a redundant data center using fiber optics. Ingenium opted for multimode OM4 or singlemode cabling to correspond with the transmission distance in each case.

Patient rooms, public spaces, offices and the security network were to be equipped with shielded Cat. 6A copper cabling. Naturally the cables had to satisfy the high security and fire protection requirements of a hospital. The use of Power over Ethernet was also discussed. Network connections for loudspeakers, surveillance cameras and WiFi were prepared so that upgrading would be possible at all times.

Flexible and perfect

The installation partners ENGIE Fabricom and EEG Gullegem were able to implement their extensive experience in healthcare projects. They also opted for a pragmatic solution and recommended the cabling system from R&M. Tom Croes, Datacom Project Lead at ENGIE, explains the decision as follows: «It was the offer with the best price/quality ratio. That is why we opted for R&M.»

Furthermore, he was impressed by the convenient installation technology of the shielded Cat. 6A EL module. «It made it possible for us to work fast and flexibly over the course of the two-year project,» explains Tom Croes.

No hitches were experienced during installation. The R&M West Europe (WEU) team together with reseller 6X International saw to that. They provided flexible logistical support with partial deliveries. The R&M specialists Luc de Bruycker and Jean Paul Rooseleer were always close at hand if there were matters to be clarified or if practical help was needed. Not a single problem escalated. Adaptations to a third-party front panel layout were an immediate success.

The resulting installation was as perfect as the surrounding architecture. The 6,500 copper links were found to have zero errors. Tom Croes: «Very impressive and something we had never seen before. The cabling solution proved to be installation-friendly and extremely robust.»

The project leads at Zeno hospital – Nick Roels for IT and Frank Vandierendonck for infrastructure and technology – confirmed that on the commissioning of the hospital in the spring of 2018: «The flexibility during construction and the communication with the installation company resulted in a smooth-running, correct installation and completion of the project.»

AZ Zeno

Construction 2015 to 2018, opened March 2018

  • 100 doctors, 800 specialist workers, 324 beds
  • Area 52,000 m², 5 floors
  • Investment volume approx. 220 million EUR

Functions: private hospital in Knokke-Heist for the region Northwest Flanders, outpatient, and healthcare center, rehabilitation center, nursing home, auditoriums, public event rooms, heliport.