Center for Pediatric Oncology Princess Máxima Center

The Princess Máxima Center in Utrecht opened in May 2018. From that point onwards, all healthcare, research and training in the Netherlands related to children with cancer is concentrated in one place.

Science & Discovery Center – Children are always eager to learn. Even when they are seriously ill. Moreover, incentives to learn can distract their attention from their illness and improve their quality of life. In the Princess Máxima Center, the Science & Discovery Center focuses explicitly on that eagerness to learn. Photo credit: Ewout Huibers

Science & Discovery Center – There are also two separate practice areas with an MRI scanner and an RT accelerator. Here the children can prepare for their treatment. Photo credit: Ewout Huibers;

Building site – The Princess Máxima Center wants to provide a stimulating and safe environment for its patients and their parents, in which normal family life can carry on as smoothly as possible and in which children can continue to develop and play. One of the spaces in which this is expressed is the Building site with its giant crane. Photo credit: Ewout Huibers.

Park – Another unique space is the Park. The most striking element is the impressive furniture, which meanders like a landscape through the space and in which there is plenty to discover. Photo credit: Ewout Huibers

Every year 600 children aged anywhere up to 18 are diagnosed with cancer. Fortunately, the treatment options are getting better all the time and more than 75% of patients can now expect to be cured. Nevertheless, there is still room for improvement: the proportion of patients cured should be raised to 100%, the side effects and late effects of treatment need to be reduced and by 2020 the Princess Máxima Center aims to be one of the world’s top five paediatric oncology research institutes in the world.

Park – It contains play elements and relaxation corners that stimulate patients to move around or spend time with their relatives. Patients with less physical strength are also stimulated to take more exercise here. It is an attractive, open space in which patients and relatives can meet while enjoying a beautiful view of the surrounding area. Photo credit: Ewout Huibers

The Princess Máxima Center will offer development-centred healthcare. Despite their illness, young patients are still growing and it is important to encourage their cognitive, socio-emotional and motor development. This means that the hospital’s organisation, interior layout and facilities must meet high standards.

Entrance – A low and open design gives the reception area a friendly and approachable look and feel emphasising the inviting character of the building. Photo credit: Chris van Koeverden.

Hall – The entrance serves as a central reception area for visitors to the Princess Máxima Centre. It also has a residential function and includes a coffee corner, space for temporary exhibitions, playground furniture and access to the restaurant. Photo credit: Erik van ‘t Wout

MMEK’ involved all stakeholders, such as patients, parents, interest groups, healthcare professionals and building management in the design process to ensure that these standards could be fulfilled.

The quiet room – The design of the quiet room is not based on a religious conviction or persuasion. The gradually changing light wall creates a balanced dynamic in the space, so that people can unwind. A muted room that is effectively screened off from external stimuli, giving people the space they need to reflect and perform their own rituals. Photo credit: Chris van Koeverden

All aspects of the new center have been designed based on a single philosophy and are devoted to development-centred healthcare. The Science Discovery Center, the Building site and the Park all form part of a seamless concept and contribute to a stimulating environment centred on children and their ongoing development.

Photo credit Ewout Huibers

The brand identity of the Princess Máxima Center is expressed in all elements of the interior. Its rooms, furniture and toys form part of an integral design. The interior is styled in a uniform manner, which is recognisable throughout the building, making it an understandable and familiar environment.
The center aims to be a safe and stimulating place for patients and their parents where everyday family life can continue as much as possible. MMEK’ designs unforgettable spaces that combine digital, physical and spatial elements into unique experiences. Spaces for healthcare, museums and brand experience centers. Its architects, interior designers, industrial designers and multimedia developers spent a great deal of time working together on the design. Their reversed design approach created a holistic interior. In reversed design, it is not the architectural construction, but instead the needs and wishes of the users that are most important.
The result is a strong, harmonious design centred on patients, their families and healthcare professionals. During the design process for this integrated design, MMEK’ deployed mock-ups and virtual reality. This made it possible to realistically visualise various areas and facilities at an early stage, allowing them to be discussed and assessed by the stakeholders. This meticulous approach is the only way to produce a result supported by all stakeholders.

Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

About MMEK’


MMEK’ is an Award-Winning Experience Design Office.

Founded by Martijn Meeske and Erik van Kuijk, MMEK’ is an award-winning experience design office based in the Pastoe Factory in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

MMEK’ creates environments that transform key life moments and brand messages into unforgettable experiences that seamlessly combine digital, physical and spatial elements.
The office has a strong track record in healthcare and museums, where the user experience is paramount. With an eye for brand essences, it is equally at home working with companies in other fields.

The office’s inhouse expertise covers architecture, interior design and multimedia.
MMEK’ assigns a multidisciplinary team to every project, resulting in solutions that are genuinely holistic. Thanks to this wide-ranging approach, MMEK’ environments unite architecture, design and technology, crafting experiences that unfold over time, appealing to all the senses as they allow guests to explore them at their own pace.

As Creative Director Erik van Kuijk puts it, MMEK’ solutions aim at a “total picture reflecting the essence” of every project it tackles.