Where East meets West

Wednesday 04 Nov 2009

A hospital unlike any other will be built in the Shunde District of Foshan, China

China is evolving, accommodating and integrating with the rest of the world and making its mark in international affairs, and as this happens, the state is undergoing a rejuvenation of both its sustainable credentials and its social infrastructure.

Architecture is playing an enormous part in this transformation - a fact most potently evident in the architecture of the Beijing Olympics. Culturally the stadia represent a high point for the country but socially it is the schools and hospitals which will have the most profound importance.

In finding a new direction, a collaboration between China's Shunde ArchitecturalDesign Institute and the USA's HMC Architects produced the winning design for the First People's Hospital, to be situated in Foshan. A true first of its kind, the design integrates the medicine and culture of the East with the innovation of the West under one attractive and functional roof. Recognizing that efficient healthcare starts with effective design, the Chinesegovernment held a design competition in 2007 that invited five teams from more than 50 submittalsfrom all over the world to compete for a 200,000 sq m hospital.

The result is a design which fuses and respects the traditional medical practises in China but improves on functionality, minimises errors, maximises productivity and incorporates sustainability whilst providing services for up to 1,500 resident patients and 6,000 outpatients a day.

Indoor and outdoor spaces, including 'healing gardens' are utilised creating a holistic approach which conforms to both eastern and western medicine practises and provides therapeutic space and places for patients and relatives to relax. This approach is met with sustainable features including the use of local materials and products, and recycled water features which are used for cooling and provide a mask for ambient noise and visual comfort for patients. In addition, photovoltaicpanels are integrated on the roof and chilled beams in the eco-atrium to naturally cool the building. Non-toxic paints are used throughout the hospital to limit indoor air contaminants.

Aside from functionality, the design, which was reached within just 45 days, presents itself as bold, beautiful and even inviting. Hal Sibley, Managing Principal for HMC Architects’ Los Angeles office, saluted the collaborative efforts that preluded the project's success: “We worked together as a coordinated team—learning from each other and integrating our strengths. We found that good design is a common language thattranscends language and cultural differences.”

Niki May Young
News Editor

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