Designing of environment for healthcare facilities is a great challenge for an architect. S/he needs to address the major issues like ambience, atmosphere – both indoor and outdoor, socio-psychological and behavioural issues of patients in a humane way taking into consideration the rapidly advancing medical technology and science in Healthcare. The primary challenges in designing a hospital space are three-pronged technological aspect where cutting edge technology must be integrated into the design; the other is of providing the soothing environment for recuperation and healing, and lastly the financial aspect where a balance between the two must be achieved without compromising on each other.
Much has been written about the technical and other functional aspects of hospital design, the standards and codes have brought about a modular nature to meet most designs and have in some situations omitted the human elements. The importance of art, colour, spatial quality and ambience in the building can play a very critical role in reducing patient stress. Typical hospital institutions that are well funded and planned can implement their master plan in one stroke; however, it is with a typical institutes which are philanthropic in nature and funded by donors that an architect’s skill is truly tested. Implementing a master plan in phases keeping future goal in mind, yet accommodating technological changes during that time can really be challenging. Often in projects funded by charitable organisations, the time frame between two phases can be years apart, thus in technological terms it is practically millennia in-between.
On occasion it may not be financially feasible to scrap entire buildings just to introduce new technology or equipment. Often, this new equipment can cost crores of rupees and thus not much is left over for the architectural part of the design. Thus in such situations, retrofitting old buildings by making minor structural and design changes becomes important. With space and financial constraints, one must have knowledge about available and cost-effective building technology, materials and knowledge of related services to allow for a seamless integration between old structures with new technology with minimal intrusion to the working of the institute. Shuffling and rearranging in the same space over a period of time must be foreseen to some extent and the design must have flexibility of accommodating future requirements.
Small design basics like adjacency of different departments, wards, etc. can reduce the energy consumed when moving within different departments and reduce the stress on patients and staff members as well. The emphasis must be the importance of respecting the human being in the patient and not get lost in the medical and technological aspect, because these small things make a difference to the patients well-being and recovery.