Opinion: Ravideep Singh
Repurposing urban infrastructure to build hospitals that meet the changing needs of the community
Wednesday, August 2, 2023

 

Healthcare infrastructure globally is under immense pressure due to the growing demand for quality healthcare services. Over the past few decades, as the population continues to soar, the burden on healthcare systems has begun to pile up. This has impelled healthcare planners and policymakers to future-proof the healthcare infrastructure whilst ensuring sustainability and resilience in the healthcare systems. We have also witnessed rapid urbanization and the emergence of new construction materials and technologies.

 

While green buildings and energy-efficient technologies promise to reduce carbon footprint and create a healthier built environment, we are beginning to see the irony of what building so-called ‘sustainable’ infrastructure entails, practically. On the other side of the spectrum, the pandemic brought forth the functional inadequacies of healthcare infrastructure across the globe and imposed an urgency to ramp up and build high-quality infrastructure swiftly.

 

In the realm of healthcare infrastructure, adaptive reuse has proven to be a game-changer, especially in the post-pandemic era. The growing need for hospitals and care facilities also highlighted some gaps in urban healthcare infrastructure. Take for example, the densely populated urban hub of the National Capital Region, Delhi - Greater Noida, which has an exorbitant population density of close to 25,000 people per sq. km, had no quality healthcare facility in close vicinity, impelling people to travel to Noida or New Delhi in forage of quality clinical care, until last year. Sarvodaya Hospital by Sarvodaya Healthcare and the Fortis Hospital in Greater Noida, designed by experienced architects address these gaps in healthcare infrastructure by revitalizing defunct urban spaces to create transformative spaces that positively shape the lives of individuals and communities to create transformative spaces that positively shape the lives of individuals and communities.

 

In urban areas where land is scarce and expensive, repurposing existing infrastructure offers an environment-friendly solution to meet the growing demand for healthcare facilities. Adaptive reuse, the process of converting old or underutilized buildings for new purposes, provides a unique opportunity to improve healthcare accessibility by transforming urban structures into hospitals.

 

One of the methods in repurposing is  standardizing design elements like the patient room headwalls, footwalls, and wall claddings, not only were costs reduced significantly, but execution time also accelerated. Embracing drywall construction, adhesive technology for finishes, and pre-designed systems such as PVC panels and wall coverings further expedited construction processes.

 

A lot of challenges arise while particularly concerning mechanical services and their specific height requirements, inherent in brownfield projects. Ingeniously, the implementation of ducted cassette units can be a space-efficient alternative to optimize heights and enhance the overall spatial experience within the hospital. This approach is a cost-effective and sustainable way to build community-centric healthcare facilities that enhance access to quality care and promote well-being.

 

The creative utilization of space and natural light result in a visually striking and functional facility that showcases the tremendous potential of brownfield projects to deliver high-quality healthcare services to the community and drive positive change. By revitalizing defunct urban spaces, we can bridge gaps in healthcare infrastructure and create transformative environments that positively impact the lives of individuals and communities alike.

 

Hospitals like the Sarvodaya Hospital and Fortis Hospital in Greater Noida serve as compelling case studies for the potential of brownfield projects. While the project goals and their suitability to pursue brownfield sites vary across hospitals, what it brings for certain, is high value in terms of swiftly addressing the lacunae of deficient healthcare infrastructure and promoting communal health and offering high-quality healthcare services to the community and driving positive change. As urban populations continue to grow, repurposing urban infrastructure for healthcare is also a proactive step towards creating a resilient and accessible healthcare system for all.

 

 

(Ravideep Singh is Associate Director, Creative Designer Architects. Views expressed are personal)

 

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