by Rahul KumarJun 15, 2021
Envisaged to provide top-notch healthcare facilities and a state-of-the-art centre that would enhance skill development for the adjoining Symbiosis Medical College, the Symbiosis University Hospital and Research Centre (SUHRC) is a definitive, grounded structure that succeeds in adding an additional layer of design to a building typology rooted in essential functionality. Designed by Mumbai-based architectural firm IMK Architects, headed by the father-son duo of celebrated Indian architect and engineer, IM Kadri, and architect and urban designer, Rahul Kadri, the hospital is intended to cater to the nearby population of Pune and its neighbouring districts, while ensuring access to healthcare facilities for even remote areas. The hospital and its modern infrastructure is currently being put to use as a COVID-19 facility.
The hospital’s site and location along the foothills in Lavale, Pune, lent itself to an interesting set of challenges and opportunities for the designers at IMK Architects. Strategically positioned to ensure minimum cut-and-fill along the terrain, the contours of the site are interpreted into a distinct entrance canopy that forms a defining aspect of the building’s façade, while imbibing an element of grandeur that resounded through the design brief from all stakeholders and clients. Located just alongside, the connected academic block has yet another distinct entryway earmarked by a convex stainless steel canopy, akin to a gigantic bird spreading its wings to welcome visitors. Placed in direct contrast with the swirling but level concrete slab of the hospital’s entryway that exudes care and a sense of shelter through design, the entrance to the academic block or the research centre is a more contemporary response and is in line with the project’s intent to impart distinguished, independent entities to both blocks.
Functionally, the building is planned into four sections: the first three (the general hospital block, the procedure block, and the multi-specialty block) belonging to the hospital, and the fourth one being the skill centre or the academic block for students. The overall building mass is punctured by two courtyards that create buffer zones between functionally different blocks, while providing a window into the largely academic pursuit of healing in hospitals through biophilia. Apart from housing a plethora of local flora and fauna, the courtyards bring in ample daylight and natural ventilation to the wardrooms, out-patient department, and the OPD that has no air-conditioning system, respectively. On all other levels, a three-meter wide corridor overlooks the central, larger courtyard, ensuring penetration of natural light and ventilation into the relatively narrow floorplates.
In keeping with the firm’s largely biophilic philosophy of work as visible here, the terraces too have been converted into landscaped gardens, while expansive lawns adjoining the entrance to the academic bloc and skill centre facilitate recreation for students. Acting as an oasis, the courts create buffer zones between the more public areas and critical areas such as the ICU, aiding in reducing anxiety among patients, caretakers, staff, and the chances of cross infection via a reduced dependence on air conditioning and typically closed quarters.
The treatment and testing facilities for the hospital are planned across five levels. Departments that require easy access and are frequented by patients including OPD, casualty, radiology, MHC, etc. have been planned on the ground floor. The first floor comprises general, twin and single bed wards, overlooking the greenery of the courtyards. On the other hand, the second floor is segregated owing to the presence of sterile facilities including OTs, Pre-Op, Post-Op, and ICUs. The varied usage of the spaces in the interiors of the building is translated into an interesting façade element on the exterior. In a conscious effort to break away from the oft employed, monotonous permutation of linearly aligned windows, the hospital’s façade employs differential striations that display an evolving variation as one moves from floor to floor, and space to space.
A repetitive coursing of CEB (Compressed Earth Blocks) is the façade’s definitive material identity, and through some innovative design, is used to great effect as an enhancement to the building’s façade as well. Four different assemblies are derived from different arrangements of the CEB blocks, used as wall cladding, building boxing, crate jaalis, and screen walls across the windows on separate floors, lending the façade a distinctly, identifiably local yet stylised identity. While the boxing occupies corners of all fenestrations across habitable spaces like the wards, enabling wider avenues for viewing outside or into the courtyards, the crate latticework and screen is used as a second skin in front of toilets, ventilators, staircases, and parking and service spaces. Furthermore, to allow for larger spans that accommodate different layouts and room arrangement while also facilitating easy routing for ducts, post tensioned RCC slabs are used to operate with beams only where absolutely required. For its inventive use of CEB in its façade, the building was also recently hailed as a winner in the ‘Public Building, Exterior’ category for Surface Design Awards, London.
“Carefully and strategically planned, the building attempts to make gestures that are grand, yet local and responsive with attention to details such as the brick-art and the exposed concrete,” states the team at IMK Architects on the intent of the building’s aesthetic despite being a structure governed by strict adherence to norms and guidelines. Boasting of a robustness and maturity in make that stems from a deft hand, the building’s design flouts the superfluous to achieve a rather robust, timeless quality.
Name: Symbiosis University Hospital and Research Centre
Location: Symbiosis University Hospital and Research Centre on Gut no 936/1 and 936/2 (P), Lavale, Pune
Architects: IMK Architects
Site Area: 96100.00 Sq.Mtrs.
Built Up Area, Phase 1: 4,59,074 sq.ft.
Principal Architect: Mr. Rahul Kadri
Design Team: Nithin Hosabettu, Sahil Bipin Deshpande, Viraj Naralkar, Aakash Shrivastav
Client: Symbiosis Society