ARCHITECT: rural urban framework - Joshua Bolchover and John Lin, HKUrban Lab, The University of Hong Kong
CLIENT: Harvest Institute for Integrated Rural Development
AWARDS WON: riba award for international excellence
riba international emerging architect
This new rural hospital building was commissioned by the Hong Kong charity, Institute for Integrated Rural Development, to develop a model healthcare centre which would address the many short comings in current health care provision in rural China, which is general unfavourable compared with urban areas.
The architects worked closely with the dedicated hospital director and the local health bureau to design an exemplar building, which would support the many progressive reforms on rural hospital management and care giving.
The programme includes the provision of basic amenities, absent in current establishments, such as a waiting room and offering traditional Chinese treatments with western medicine. It was important for the new hospital to be a public building in the heart of the community and for it to be fully accessible and inclusive, in direct contrast to the usual gated and privatised institutions. The hospital provides minor illness treatment, referrals in the event of serious cases, rehabilitation after treatment in major hospitals, management of chronic illness, health education and promotion.
The new building sits on the steeply sloping site of the original health centre which was retained during the majority of the building programme. The slope of the ground necessitates the need for a ramp to negotiate the various levels and to provide access to the upper floors and roof without the need for a lift. This is the generating form for the building and begins its journey at the lower ground level where it engages directly with the street and wraps a public inner courtyard space. This tranquil garden is used especially by children and the elderly, from a home across the street, and provides a place which can be used for Tai Chi and other exercise, as part of the programme for improving public health. Tiered seating provides shaded external waiting space.
The wide ramp forms two sides of the courtyard, which brings light and air into the various medical and treatment rooms at all levels. It is enclosed with a perforated screen wall made from specially fabricated pre-cast square concrete blocks designed to give privacy and shade. This is the brilliance of the scheme. The blocks are a terracotta colour and fit easily amongst the surrounding rural buildings with their clay tiled roofs. Each with a central circular hole, they were cast using flexible latex moulds, 9 types in total. This allowed them to be arranged to give a changing undulation to the surface and variety to the sunlight and shadows cast as the sun moves across the sky. The ramp and corridor spaces are delightfully animated and enjoyed by both staff and patients creating a joyful journey onto the roof, which is used as a meeting and play space.
The main entrance is higher up the street at upper ground floor level and here there is large and welcoming entrance leading to a generous reception and waiting space. The back of the hospital looks over the surrounding fields and at ground level there is a children's play ground. The external walls are constructed using reclaimed bricks. The patient wards and treatment spaces are animated with a series of projecting windows bays set forty-five degrees to the plan. This gives privacy and diffuses direct sunlight whist ensuring there are lovely views out across the countryside. The construction is mainly of in situ reinforced concrete. The finish is of a standard entirely appropriate to the brief and circumstance. The reading of the architecture is in its tectonic form and the priority is the quality and experience of the spaces made.
This health centre has become the centre of public life in this growing village. Is it obviously well loved and from the generous and enthusiastic welcome and interest in the jury visit it is it clear that the hospital staff, the whole community and local authorities are justifiably proud of this wonderful building.
CONTRACTOR: Baojing Construction no.1 Ltd.
Project manager: Maggie K Y Ma
Advisor: HK Hospital Authority
Commissioning Donor: Institute for integrated Rural Development
Additional Donors: Luke Him Sau Charitable Trust
INTERNAL AREA: 1,450 SQM
date of occupation: 01/2014
PHOTOGRAPHER: rural urban framework