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Role of Healthcare Architect in Hospital Designing & Planning

Architecture – term defines by an intense process of planning, designing, and building a structure that creates an impact on the physical environment and human being. Several symbolic elements such as different materials, construction methods, joinery details, and several component’s effects as art work to the particular building / structure. Further, there are several other headers under cultural designed based architecture such as ancient Asian, Islamic, middle ages, renaissance, early modern, and so on with today’s contemporary architecture. As the design industry is developing, the very aged concept of Hospital Architecture started coming back to the architect’s board. As a reference, we are aware the oldest architectural evidence of a hospital appears to be at Mihintale in Sri Lanka which can be dated to the 9th century AD.

Knowing the facts of the integrity of designing a hospital requires focused clinical planning, right processes implementation and knowledge of space planning considering the PPS flow (patient – pubic – staff flow), medical devices and equipment positions and sizes for movements and lastly the medical and non-medical furniture arrangements for the end users. Let us understand in detail the process of hospital design.

The process of design and development consists of a team of professionals including administrators, consultants, healthcare professionals, and doctors. The management is the authority always appoints a Healthcare Architect who plays a vital role during the project development of building a hospital. Post formation of the team the first task is to collect preliminary data including geological, cultural, and social surroundings of the hospital site. The collective data is later analysed; and based on the analysis the functional plan gets prepared. This final approved functional plan consists of the basic clinical functions with the number of departments, bed strengths, traffic management, work flow, etc. along with the special requirements.

This collective data later gets submitted to the Healthcare Architect. Based on the data healthcare architects plan and design the schematic designs of the hospital building. These schematic designs are then submitted and on final approvals, the design gets ready for the execution of the project. The final approved drawings consist of building aesthetics, civil structural details, electrical, mechanical details, firefighting, and building management systems. Healthcare Architect also specifies the air-conditioning filtration systems for typical critical areas such as Operation Theatres, ICUs, Isolation rooms, etc along with hospital general areas. Submissions further develop the details for alternate power supply through DG sets, networks, and EPABX systems. The Healthcare Architect managing the hospital planning & design has to do so according to many factors. He has to design a building that is close to the culture of the area and the design should be able to meet future demands and manage heavy patient loads as well.

In the new era, hospital buildings are more positive fillers, joyful, and aesthetically well treated so the anxious and depressed patients feel better space wise. Today, hospital architects need to create functional environments along with providing healing supports, updated technologies, and new medical equipment system integrations as well. So, knowledge of the health sector is a must for doing justice to the architect’s role in hospital planning.

Healthcare Architecture probably is the only design type where “form follows function”. So, functionality is the preliminary focused in hospital planning and designing. Healthcare Architects key role is to ensure functionality, affordability, and by overcoming the limitation of design to provide the best aesthetics.