by Jerry ElengicalJul 12, 2021
Based on a design philosophy of ‘Playing is Healing’, Bangkok-based design office Integrated Field (IF) has created EKH Children’s Hospital with colourful curved accents, inspiring a fun spatial sensibility. With its interiors, IF challenges the stereotypical, often gloomy layout of clinics and hospitals and instead creates a ‘children’s dimension’, providing a space of playful whimsy and friendliness.
“More often than not, a hospital is a place most people avoid. We have witnessed a lot of medical institutions attempting to become friendlier, more pleasant, with its architecture and interior taking a leaf out of that of a shopping mall or a hi-end hotel. Such built environments can help with the psychology of an adult, putting them at ease. We wanted to create a similar setting for the little ones,” says Integrated Field.
Since luxury doesn’t provide the same comfort to children as it does to adults, it was a no brainer that opting that design route would be futile. A private room with scenic views won’t make needles seem harmless to kids, or put them at ease when they are asked to gulp down pills. “Since the hospital needs to become friendlier for kids, we thought that ‘fun’ is something that a child instinctively looks for, regardless of what their backgrounds are. All kids want to have fun, play and run around. Therefore, we decided to approach the design of the hospital with ‘fun’ as the driving element, keeping in mind the perspective of a child,” shares the design team.
Located in Samut Sakhon, Thailand, EKH Children’s Hospital features a ton of ‘fun’ and soothing elements to distract kids, such as a giant bubble yellow spiraling slide in the entrance hall, an indoor swimming pool with artificial clouds floating above it and cartoon animal stickers stuck to pastel coloured walls.
The waiting area of each clinic is designed as a toned-down playground, so much so that parents have a hard time convincing kids to leave the place. These, along with muted walls, round-edged furniture, curved lines and oval lighting that dominates the interior design, suggest a calmer, friendlier and a more delightful atmosphere.
Paying heed to its primary users - the children - EKH Children’s Hospital sees arched doorways, curved niches and rounded seating that are all scaled to their height, and made keeping in mind their perspective. The soft pastel colour palette of the hospital design “encourages the children’s use of imagination (as a kid, we all create our own imaginary world when we are experiencing a space for the first time). We believe that children will be able to enjoy the spaces inside the hospital according to their imagination and develop an experience through their interactions with the curated spatial program at individual levels,” shares the studio.
The pharmacy has a bright play space constructed near it, where parents can watch over their little ones while waiting. The hallways here employ indirect, soft lighting that makes sure that patients aren’t disturbed by excessive brightness. The bathrooms are done in baby pink and light yellow tiles for girls and boys respectively, with sinks and bidets placed at a child’s height, and inside curved niches.
The hospital offers four types of overnight rooms rendered in pink, blue and yellow pastels, which are categorised not as a standard, special or suite room, but given friendlier names such as Whale, Turtle, Lion and Rabbit Constellation. Each room has a glow in the dark constellation shaped according to the room’s name (Turtle room will have a turtle constellation) with a customised lamp that provides a softer illumination, instead of a harsh glare.
“EKH Children Hospital will change everyone’s perception about what the space of a children’s hospital can be,” says Integrated Field studio.
Name: EKH Children’s Hospital
Location: Samut Sakhon, Thailand
Area: 6,000 sqm
Owner: Ekachai Hospital
Architect: Integrated Field (IF)
Landscape architect, Structural, Electrical and Sanitary Engineer: S:CSB Co. Ltd
Lighting designer: Nopporn Sakulwigitsinthu
Environmental graphic: Integrated Field
Main contractor: Adisorn Construction
Interior contractor: Open Interior, Pansin
Signage contractor: D.R. Advertising