Healthcare design and architecture has evolved over the years and is constantly adapting to the changing needs. In terms of its functionality, rather than just improving the health condition of the patients, hospital architecture should aim at providing the best health experience.
Modern hospitals occupy a considerable share of the construction industry. Modern architecture for healthcare needs to find a fair balance between - the welfare of the patients and health staff along with a combination of the latest technologies, energy-efficient building design and planning and sustainability.
Facades are an integral part of any building design and more so for hospitals as they directly impact patients health and well-being. Hospital facades need to integrate designs that can aid the process of healing.
With a diverse population of patients and staff, hospitals offer a unique environment. It is indispensable for hospitals to focus on energy efficiency and render thermal comfort to the occupants as it can impact both physical and psychological health. Higher indoor temperature can, in general, cause discomfort. Especially patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, several respiratory disorders, cardiovascular diseases, epilepsy, tend to be more sensitive to heat. Facades can directly impact the indoor temperature and their important function is to keep out the heat during summers and allow the penetration of warmth during winters.
The National Cancer Institute is a proposed 500-bedded hospital in Nagpur. The city has extreme climatic variations with scorching summers to freezing winters that pose a challenge to design a climate-responsive building. But the architectural design is planned for optimizing the energy requirements. The curtain walls are designed as semi-unitized glazing, sun path analysis carefully considers design elements like sunshades, deeper recesses and fenestration like the aluminium louvers that have been used to optimize the lux levels and maintain indoor temperatures. The building uses clean, renewable energy to fulfil the energy requirements of the hospital. Along with reducing the maintenance costs, the hospital design has been planned in such a way to reduce stress, enhance the visual, acoustic and thermal comfort and in turn the overall well-being of the patients.
Hospitals are hotspots of microbes with diverse patients, attendants and staff. To reduce their exposure to both harmful pathogens and hazardous cleaning agents, anti-microbial facades are crucial, especially after the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. Self-cleaning and easy-to-clean materials, homogenous surfaces, non-porous materials and materials that can prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi are essential. A facade with rear ventilation is preferred due to its ability to avoid the spread of infection. Some beneficial products include glass, copper-based facades, PVC, UPVC, Poly-carbonate, High-Pressure Laminates (HPVs). Also, faades with air-infiltration technology help filter the air and circulate clean air inside the buildings. There is a need for sustainable facade design that allows for natural ventilation as it is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of airborne microbes.
Additionally, compact interior wall cladding with enhanced hygiene and anti-microbial properties can help prevent bacterial growth. Choosing products that are free from additives such as zinc, silver or copper ions can prevent the bacteria from multiplying. HPL compact panels with completely closed surface are a great option to rid the surface of nano particles and provide permanent resistance to regular disinfection of the surfaces.
A hospital environment is constantly bustling with people and filled with activity and noise, around the clock. A good noise reduction system for hospitals can instil comfort, calmness and bring relief to patients especially during convalescence. Acoustical wall panels and roofing, soundproof doors and barriers for patient rooms, lobbies and other places with noise, are a few essentials. Acoustic quilted curtains, fabric wrapped fiberglass panels, sound silencer panels, micro-perforated ceiling and wall panels, wall insulation, perforated metal panels, cellulose panels, wood wool, acoustic enclosures etc., are a few of the products and resources for soundproofing the hospitals.
In case of fire-related disasters in the hospital, apart from the actual threat of fire, the temperatures within the premises increase drastically. Immovable patients, emergency cases and long-term care patients are at a higher risk during these times as their evacuation becomes extremely difficult. Built-in or passive fire protection along with active fire protection measures is vital for hospitals. The external cladding system for fire resistance uses cladding materials like exterior grade laminates that can retard fire material and stop its propagation. Planks or weatherboards made from fibre cement or steel, concrete, fire-resistant curtain walls, glass, Greenguard certified HPL panels for green buildings, PVC or aluminium, sheets and panel materials, brick, gypsum boards, double hardened resin and reconstituted timber products etc., are few other fire-retardant cladding materials that could be integrated.
The rear ventilated faade powered by HPL panels (for exterior cladding) helps conserve energy, maintains comfortable temperature and enhances the thermal performance of the building. It also allows for easy incorporation of fire and noise protection requirements for hospitals.
Labs require worktop panels, walls and furniture that resist even the most aggressive chemicals, acids, offer resistance to extreme working conditions and are sterile, easy to clean and durable. Compact high pressure laminate panels are an excellent choice as they take care of all these requirements.
Fume hood liner is another necessity for a lab set up. It is a type of laboratory device designed to minimize a persons exposure to hazardous substances. It draws air from the front part of the cabinet and expels it outside the building or ensures safety through filtration when it is to be fed back into the room. Some of the common and efficient materials used for fume hood liners include fiberglass reinforced composite panel liner, unplasticized polyvinyl chloride, stainless steel, epoxy resin, phenolic resin, polypropylene etc.
The quality of healthcare facilities and environment can directly affect children's physical, physiological and mental safety. A children's hospital demands -
Apart from taking care of the physical well-being, elevating the mental condition of the patients is imperative for hospitals. Connecting with nature and creating an environment of openness can provide the best healthcare outcomes.