Malaysia's newest hospital ditches the local vernacular and looks to the future
The brief asked for a hospital that does not look like a typical hospital. It should exude confidence in users as a place of science and precision in healthcare facilities. The owner commissioned Environmental Design Practice Sdn. Bhd. to provide the prototype design of their 82-bedded community hospital. This hospital is the second built using the same prototype. It is located in Nusajaya Medical Park; part of the new special economic zone of Malaysia located at the southern-most tip of Peninsular Malaysia. It is to be one of the first buildings to be developed in the soon-to-be major regional commercial hub equipped with 'high-tech' first-world facilities.
Unlike most of the conventional local hospitals that try to create a vernacular or tropical architectural language, this hospital makes no attempt to follow the old paradigm hospital design in the region. It uses curtain wall to maximise natural daylight. Visually pleasing in proportion, the cladding used was a bright silver composite aluminium panels and blue tinted glass to give a modern curtain wall look with a clean sleek image. This functional high-tech appearance aims to impart a sense of confidence in the healing technology. Since the structural element employed was relatively simple, the architect derived elegance of the building from the intricate language of detailing work.
The approach was to create a balance between satisfying the complex functional requirements of an efficient compact hospital and the creation of an easily recognisable and ‘iconic’ architecture for the owner as well as addressing the surrounding context of the medical park.
The interior design of the hospital, on the other hand, takes on a softer approach whilst maintaining a 'homely' feel. Again, the aesthetics are achieved by the appropriate use of intricate detailing in the joinery work. Natural lighting is therapeutic and here it is abundant in the wards as well as the common areas in the building.
The prototype design took the shape of an efficient rectangular shape, where generally the first floor is for the patient care. All the patient rooms are placed here along the perimeter with external windows for filtered daylight, and possible natural ventilation in case of power failure. The ground floor is dedicated to diagnostic, treatment and administrative functions. All supporting services and back-of-house functions occupy the only basement level. All the mechanical plants and water tanks are planned to centralise entirely on the covered roof level, which forms the mass necessary for the required façade proportion. This enclosed roof level becomes an interstitial space insulating the habitable floor below, as such reducing vertical heat load, which is predominant in tropical climate. By so doing, all habitable floors are also free of mechanical rooms, therefore reducing heat, noise and contamination risk. The project was completed in December 2009.