The newly formed state of Chhattisgarh (formerly a part of Madhya Pradesh in Central India) has witnessed large-scale industrial development due to its rich mineral deposits. A master plan for its new capital city (NAYA RAIPUR) has been drawn up and a 400 acre plot of land was adopted by the Vedanta Group to develop a cancer hospital, with adjoining residential, teaching, hotel and convention facilities on 50 acres, run purely on a non-profit basis.
This also involved developing a macro-level plan for the additional 350 acres of land surrounding the hospital, incorporating a sports, commercial and educational complex and generating a horticultural and agricultural industry to sustain the campus and the surrounding villages, to aid in laying the foundation for sustainable development not only on the site but also around it. A forest ecosystem has been planned within the site for which planting is underway. As one of the first projects to begin work, our site was an opportunity to establish a benchmark, not just for future medical facilities, but also for integrated sustainable development in the rest of the city.
For the entire medical facility to be self-contained, adequate accommodation needed to be provided for the resident and student nurses, 1,2 and 3-bedroom and service apartments for Doctors, as well as a serai for free accommodation.
The following major factors were considered during the design process.
1) The hospital is a complex structure, a resultant of translating multiple overlapping diagrams. This programmatic complexity does not extend to the housing complex.
2) Fly-ash is a major by-product of the mining (Chhattisgarh is a mineral rich state). The choice of material for this project is fly-ash brick, made in local kilns from locally available materials. A load-bearing vocabulary has therefore been adopted for the housing complex.
3) Establishing ease of access, streamlining pedestrian and vehicular movement, and understanding the specific roles and hierarchies of staff/nurses/doctors was critical to determine the proximity of blocks to the staff entrance of the hospital.
4) Orientation with respect to the sun's movement, prevalent breezes, and views to the adjoining forest land were carefully studied, especially because mechanical ventilation, although planned for, was not assured in all areas, and we therefore had to design natural ventilation in temperatures that varied from 6 -45 degrees centigrade.
5) Severe budget restrictions (a finished cost of 250-280 Euros/sq. mt.) necessitated a complete reanalysis of the design process.
The cancer hospital is aiming to be Asia's finest oncology institute, but to achieve this; it needs very competent nursing staff, doctors and administrators. The housing complex therefore needs to offer a standard of living commensurate with this idea.
A large nodal court was established opposite the main staff entrance of the hospital, from where multiple, linear, narrow blocks pushed out into the landscape. Establishing key points where these 'tubes' intersect to create overlapping conditions optimizes circulation. A consistent and coherent vocabulary of low-lying load bearing blocks is established. Functional differentiation takes place through varying internal spans. Circulation areas are expressed as large voids in the load bearing walls (circular voids express the load bearing construction) and as differentiated fly-ash brick screens.
Minimal shear walls have been inserted in areas where blocks intersect and where they form cantilevers. All spaces within the blocks are designed to be naturally lit and ventilated. A hierarchy of public and private green spaces is created, starting from wide, landscaped circulation avenues, to semi public linear courts, to the more private nodal courts and finally terminating in individual balconies/terraces and landscaped multi-level building voids.
The nurses' dormitories are arrayed as a series of overlapping tubes enclosing large green spaces. Internal circulation routes are expressed as perforated screens made from fly-ash brick and long walls are punctuated by circular fenestrations on the room side.
The two and three-bedroom apartments are placed on the southern end of the plot. The two bedroom units are housed in a four-storey load bearing structure that intertwines with a six-storey RCC-framed block that contains two-bed units at its lower levels and three-bed units higher up. These blocks provide the green spaces and recreational areas within the site a buffer from the harsh south sun, and also get views of the planted captive forestland in the south.
Common facilities are planned at two locations. The main nodal court in the northeast has dining facilities and common areas for the nurses and student nurses. Sports facilities and a clubhouse are planned in the southwest.
Apart from the six-storey structure in the south, all the blocks are externally expressed as fly-ash brick walls and screens. The juxtaposition of these blocks with a modulated ground profile established a coherent and transparent architectural syntax, and the overall visual effect of simple load-bearing walls, punctuated, perforated and opaque, rising from the earth, provides a restrained counterpoint to the complex geometry and materiality of the hospital.
Nature, once again, becomes the focal point of the concept, with large green spaces, developed as a mix of 'forest' land with dense trees, and more articulated breakout and recreation spaces, ensures that that the low rise blocks will ultimately be viewed only intermittently through the dense landscape cover.