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Sant Pau: cutting-edge health research at a World Heritage site

Having successfully funded the restoration of two historic buildings belonging to the Sant Pau hospital, the CEB approved a € 9 million loan to build a biomedical research centre

Sant PauBarcelona’s Sant Pau Hospital is the world’s largest Art Nouveau site, hosting one of the oldest medical institutions in Europe. In 1997 it became a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its unique construction and artistic beauty.  

Having been in operation for over 600 years, Sant Pau is the oldest hospital in Spain, serving patients not only from Catalonia but from the entire country. Its original mission – to serve the poor and pilgrims according to Christian charity – has evolved to meet the needs of today, making it one of the top-level university hospitals in Spain.  

The CEB partially funded the recent restoration of two buildings on the Sant Pau hospital historical site, namely the “Administration Pavilion” and the “Sant Salvador Pavilion.”  

The “Administration Pavilion” and the 10 buildings that surround it were built by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, a highly influential figure in Catalan architectural modernism, which counts Antoni Gaudí as its most famous member. In Sant Pau, Domènech i Montaner recreated the traditional Catalan volta, or vaulted ceiling, and used diverse decorative resources, such as bare red brick, mosaics and tiles.  

The restoration works funded by the CEB have made it possible to open a museum devoted to the Sant Pau hospital and its ties to the city and to medicine, and to provide accompanying services – a museum shop, cafeteria and catering services, as well as multi-purpose rooms for events, meetings and conferences.  

Sant Pau Research Institute

Catalonia has a singular and internationally renowned model of hospital research, with healthcare research institutes organised around major hospitals.  

The Sant Pau Hospital Research Institute is a prominent institution in the field of biomedical research, particularly renowned for the integration of new discoveries into healthcare praxis. Its research studies carry significant weight in their fields, while the Institute also boasts many government-subsidised projects, a variety of research grants and a wide range of clinical trials.  

In 2016 the CEB approved a € 9 million loan to CaixaBank to partially finance the construction of the new Research Institute building.  

The Institute currently conducts its activity in various small spaces and pre-fabricated units within the hospital complex. The now obsolete facilities are in a precarious state and no longer offer a decent work environment for researchers. Moreover, the lack of space and scattered facilities preclude the incorporation of new technologies. All this constitutes a significant obstacle to the Research Institute’s efforts to position itself as a reference research centre in the national and international biomedical sector.  

The project therefore aims to create better working conditions for about 300 researchers and improve efficiency by concentrating the hospital’s research activities into a new building, representing a total built area of about 10 000 m². The new building will include: laboratories, technical scientific services, investigation units, management and administration, and general services.

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