"The palette becomes tangible" - the Medical School’s interior design handbook has been published

12 December 2022

In 2020, the University of Pécs Medical School, in partnership with the Minusplus architecture and design studio, created Campus Cooperationis, a study on the architectural vision of the campus, which does not come up with concrete plans but provides a personalized toolkit to help the dialogue and decision-making during the development process. As a follow-up, Locus Cooperationis, the interior design and image handbook of the campus was also developed, outlining the tools needed to create a coherent interior design vision. Although large and thick, it is a truly inspiring read, as it contains important and interesting summaries, international examples, and countless ideas and concepts on how to design our future living spaces together. The dean of the School, Dr. Miklós Nyitrai, and the principal architect of the University of Pécs, Dr. Ders Csaba, spoke about the creation of the handbook, the phases of its completion, and the development steps to be implemented in the old theoretical building of the UPMS.


Written by Rita Schweier


"If Campus Cooperationis is the pod, then Locus is the pea in it. First, we created the pod, then we started to think about how the pea should be placed in it," says Dr. Miklós Nyitrai. As he says, they wanted to see an interior design concept and framework planned for several years in advance, which could provide direction and a permanent image even in the face of future changes. The preliminary discussions and consultation with the architects go back a year and a half because they wanted what they had in mind to be useful, valuable, and permanent.

"Locus is not only a volume of studies, but also a practical handbook, or you could say a preliminary document for planning. It has a theoretical side because it formulates the language of interior design, and a technical side as well because it also contributes to its implementation with specific examples. It has created a new genre, as there has never been an example of this kind of image design at any university," adds Dr. Csaba Ders.

According to Dr. Miklós Nyitrai, the aim of the book is twofold: to inform lay faculty staff in a clear way - explaining the historical background and the visual concept. and giving tips for the furnishing of certain public spaces - and to help the designer during the implementation process. This is part of its novelty as well because it tries to reach two very different communities at the same time.

"UPMS has an environmental culture currently as well, in which we would like to provide guidelines, directions, and opportunities for development, based on uniform principles. It is important to emphasize that this is also an open system, in which everyone can find what they like, both those who prefer traditional and those who prefer more modern ideas," adds Dr. Csaba Ders.

"The leaderships of the Medical School and the University of Pécs are committed - I could also call it an internal demand - to provide community spaces that meet the needs of our students. It is not our obligation, but we want them to walk through the door with pride and happiness and to enjoy learning at our School. The architectural traditions at universities were about having corridors and classrooms for teaching, but in the 21st century we need more than that, and the higher education and architectural professions have recognized this. We need to assess the needs for this to be successful, which is not an easy task in the case of 5,000 people. That is why we have decided to work with architects to present existing responses to these opportunities, which can then be commented on. Locus Cooperationis is, in this sense, a tool to start a conversation between us,"

says Dr. Miklós Nyitrai. In practice, this means, for example, that three plans for the renovation of the facade of the main building have been drawn up, with the corresponding technical specifications, from which the citizens of the School can choose. They can also discuss these ideas in the forums existing at the School: the Faculty Council, the Council of Heads of Departments, the Associate Professors’ forum, or the Dean's coffee with students. Dr. Miklós Nyitrai emphasizes the need to keep these discussions on the agenda and to provoke them, if necessary.

It is important to note that the interior design handbook is based on the previous opinions of students and staff and reflects the School's own needs. The architects have used these opinions to create a scalable system that can be adapted to suit everyone's needs. According to Dr. Csaba Ders, the book helps maintain a common interior design language and harmony even if ten staff members imagine ten different offices. It can also create a "systematic dialogue" between the architect, the designer, and the staff member, of which all contributors are integral parts and important members. According to him, this is also unprecedented in the Hungarian design scene. He believes that the architectural profession will talk a lot about this unprecedented collaboration, and is already talking about it, as there is great interest in the novelty of the genre. PricewaterhouseCoopers reached out to them, saying that they are also working with a medical university in Cape Town and would like to hear about the experiences of the Medical School in Pécs. This London-based service and consultancy firm is active in a wide range of areas, including education. The branch is headed by a Hungarian lady who was delighted to see the professional material from Pécs. Dr. Csaba Ders believes that this is a significant and important reference point for them.

"The handbook provides a quality and aesthetic framework; however, it does not tie the hands of either the designer or the user but leaves room for individual approaches and tastes. It is essential not to say too much about what the spaces should look like, but it should say enough. It is questionable whether we will manage to strike the right balance because the renovation and design works are only about to begin, but we will also shape these processes together," says Dr. Miklós Nyitrai.

Dr. Csaba Ders is thinking of creating interior design sample spaces for people to try, which will greatly help the collaborative design process. He believes that it will be easier to make choices if "the palette becomes tangible".

Currently, the toilets are being renovated in two phases, the content of which already reflects the elements of Locus. This was the first example where the client, the designer, and the contractor had to agree on the details. Similar principles and agreements will be applied to the redevelopment of the library, the floor space of which will roughly double. The elements of Locus - harmony of lights, colours, forms, and materials - will soon be applied to the office space planned on the three-and-a-half floor, and to the administrative areas as well.

"Today's world is black and white, with fully public and fully private spaces in the corridor and office system. It was one of the toposes that we started to work with, and to present a colour palette in relation to it. The alternatives presented by Dr. Ákos Schreck and his team vary widely from the semi-private, private, and public spaces. It is a colourful system of spaces where you can retreat, talk in small groups or one-on-one, but larger groups can also gather in it. We hope that if there are not only size 38 and 42 shoes, but also five types from sizes 36 to 45 to choose from, we can discover that we can wear shoes that fit us, and, to top it all, at the same price,"

adds Dr. Csaba Ders.

"It is also important for these redevelopments to happen because then the vision becomes a future prospect and not just a pipe dream. If I am sitting in a mediocre room today, but I know that I have the resources, the intention, and the plan to make it better, psychologically it means a lot, it gives me a perspective", concludes Dr. Miklós Nyitrai.

"UPMS plans 25 years ahead. If the government said that it would spend HUF 200 billion on this School, we would know exactly what it would be spent on. Plans and internal values provide stability under all circumstances," concludes Dr. Csaba Ders.

The book will be distributed to faculty staff in digital form, only a few copies will be printed, as the joint design process may modify the contents and the range of products presented.


Lajos Kalmár

Judit Ruprech

Tibor Rafa-Gyovai

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