A tiered green core stands out in this Brazilian medical school by Safdie Architects

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An urban oasis shaping the future of medical education and research in São Paulo’s residential neighborhood, Morumbi, was designed by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie and his eponymous Boston-based practice. The 44,000 m² Albert Einstein Education and Research Center, located next to the Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital, is the first medical school to be established by a private hospital in Brazil. The latter is a Brazilian hospital considered one of the best health facilities in Latin America.




  • The Albert Einstein Education and Research Center in the residential area of ​​Morumbi in Sao Paulo Image: Timothy Hursley, courtesy of Safdie Architects






  • The 3800 m² glass roof is a key element of the Faculty of Medicine's sustainable architecture |  Safdie Architects |  Albert Einstein Education and Research Center |  STIRworld
    The 3800 m² glass roof is a key element of the sustainable architecture of the Faculty of Medicine Image: Timothy Hursley, courtesy of Safdie Architects



Safdie Architects’ vision for the project was inspired by the idea of ​​creating contextual architecture that contrasts with the bustling nature of the environment. The company has condensed the programs of the architectural file into a large permeable volume connected to a garden-like core. Laboratories, classrooms and meeting spaces are woven around a sky-lit arched garden atrium that evokes the feeling of gathering under a leafy tree. Featuring wide swaths of curved fritted glass, the roof nestles beneath a multi-tiered green core that facilitates circulation within the teaching building in addition to being the community heart of the architecture.



Entrance to medical school |  Safdie Architects |  Albert Einstein Education and Research Center |  STIRworld
Entrance to medical school Image: Timothy Hursley, courtesy of Safdie Architects


Several stepped terraces meandering through the green architecture serve as both pockets of contemplative respite and spaces for impromptu encounters and interactions. Connecting four main levels of programs, these pass through a restaurant on the first floor, an amphitheater and auditorium on the central levels, and a multi-purpose exhibition and event space on the fourth floor.



The green core of the school with an amphitheater and several stepped terraces |  Safdie Architects |  Albert Einstein Education and Research Center |  STIRworld
The green core of the school with an amphitheater and several stepped terraces Image: Timothy Hursley, courtesy of Safdie Architects


Key to the design is the expansive 3800m² glass roof, designed and engineered in collaboration between Safdie Architects and German engineering and construction firm Seele. The multi-layered skylight system was designed in response to São Paulo’s variable climate, ensuring it provides “sufficient natural light for plants to thrive; regulates heat gain and glare for human comfort ; and provides shade by gently filtering sunlight.” According to the design team, the roof structure – conceptualized as an assembly of layers – features three integrated structural domes that serve as grid shells to effectively vault over 86 m with minimum structural weight. While the exterior skylight is comprised of 1854 glass panels that have been coated with triple silver sunscreen in addition to a printed pattern of translucent ceramic dots to shade sunlight, the interior roof sheath is a micro-perforated transparent membrane revealing a personalized design. pattern of translucent dots. Viewed from below, these proliferating points at the east and west ends of the skylight – leaving the center of the roof transparent – ​​create the impression of dappled sunlight filtering through a thicket.



  • Informal meeting spaces proliferate at various levels around the atrium |  Safdie Architects |  Albert Einstein Education and Research Center |  STIRworld
    Informal meeting spaces proliferate at various levels around the atrium Image: Timothy Hursley, courtesy of Safdie Architects






  • Walkways linking the school's teaching and research wing |  Safdie Architects |  Albert Einstein Education and Research Center |  STIRworld
    Walkways connecting the teaching and research wing of the school Image: Timothy Hursley, courtesy of Safdie Architects



The programmatic distribution of spaces in the building has been split into two wings that hug the central atrium. Divided into a teaching section in the east and a research section in the west, the activities of the two wings remain both physically and visually connected via walkways and its subsequent proliferation of outdoor study spaces. Teaching spaces in the east wing include areas for nursing, medicine, graduate programs, medical residency and technical courses, while the west research wing houses laboratories, rooms white papers and clinical research resources.



Layers of privacy permeate the heart of the building |  Safdie Architects |  Albert Einstein Education and Research Center |  STIRworld
Layers of privacy permeate the heart of the building Image: Timothy Hursley, courtesy of Safdie Architects


Although the interior core of the building exudes a sense of openness and collaboration, the exterior language of the school remains rather introverted. Revealing a full-height glazed facade with alternating floors shaded by deep cantilevers, the exterior – “scaled to be unobtrusive” – is designed around the building’s idea of ​​serving as a sanctuary within its context. “The airfoil shape of the louvers, as well as their angle and spacing,” the design team explains, “was developed using computer-based solar studies, tested with large-scale physical models. louvers are oriented diagonally or horizontally, depending on the orientation of each facade to the path of the sun. Interior solar shades and blackout shades allow for flexible daylight control.”

What sets the building apart from its contemporary counterparts is the beauty with which nature has been woven into every school curriculum, something that had never been seen before in Brazil. Evoking different moods in different locations, the curved atrium garden with its rich layering of trees and plantings and local stone paving, sculpts both social spaces such as the lecture halls and exhibition area, as well as as inward-facing corners such as the enclosed area carrying seats around the fountain. What took more than two years of research to arrive at the conditions that nurture the garden today, plus learning from projects such as Gardens by the Bay and Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore and Kew Gardens and the project Eden in the UK, the landscape design was beautifully executed by São Paulo-based Isabel Duprat Landscape Architecture.



Controlled connectivity with the outdoors can be seen in interior spaces |  Safdie Architects |  Albert Einstein Education and Research Center |  STIRworld
Controlled connectivity with the outdoors can be seen in interior spaces Image: Timothy Hursley, courtesy of Safdie Architects


The materiality of the project follows the use of locally sourced wood species Jequitibá and Jatobá for the library, Cedro Rosso for the auditorium and Imbuia wood for the cladding of the elevator cores and custom doors. Natural rubber flooring has been used in classrooms and labs in colors like terracotta red and egg yolk to define the orientation and character of each space. Additionally, art permeates the clinical spaces in the use of sculptural benches within the exhibit that were designed and crafted by Brazilian designer Guto Índio da Costa. In addition to this, the verticality of the garden atrium has also been enlivened by a four-story mosaic mural by Brazilian artist Claudio Tozzi.

The sustainable architecture, which took 36 months to build, involved an international team of consultants, engineers and contractors who worked closely with Safdie Architects to achieve the desired vision. A key practice responsible for the development of classroom and laboratory interiors was the international company Perkins + Will. A space of character and spirit, more than 6,300 people inhabit the school grounds daily and carry the torch to advance education and research in medical sciences in Brazil.

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