by Jerry ElengicalJan 21, 2023
Extending the design industry's potential to the field of medicine, integrated architecture has been in limelight for experimenting with the contribution it can offer to enrich the medical industry. One such example where design marries the future of traditional medicine is the Traditional Clinic SDP set within a mixed utility residential highrise complex in Hanoi. Designed by Vietnam-based ODDO architects for YHCT Vinmec, the traditional clinic, in an 1100 sq.m. area, becomes a modern shell for the soul of traditional Vietnamese medicine.
Nestled in the dynamicity of the South-Eastern region of Hanoi, witnessing the drastic changes of urbanisation and growing population, the clinic testifies to a swirl of traditional and modern architecture. Amid the rising number of skyscrapers in the artisan village, the design embraces this diversity and builds upon the new cityscape. The traditional clinic functions on the first and the seventh floor of the building. With a reception area, lounge, drugstore and oriental medicine rooms, the first floor introduces visitors to the basics of traditional medicine. The second floor acts as the main functioning space for the clinic with treatment rooms, drug preparation and dispensing areas, meeting rooms, a lounge and reception.
Within the first floor, a cylindrical space anchors the uniqueness of the design. The amalgamation of stone and wood merges in the space to impart a sense of traditional architecture in a contemporary setting. With the wooden design of the curved wall adorned with pine wood bars, in a circular plan, the space hosts the reception and drugstore. Extending the heritage narrative of oriental medicine, the drugstore has herbal medicine drawers with a brass handle and nameplate in the backdrop expressing a resemblance to ancient Asian medicinal storage objects. Furthermore, the floor hosts oriental medical rooms for various treatments.
Creating a spatial rhythm, the seventh-floor hosts 31 stone columns that span across the main hallway and frame the horizontal circulation nodes. While placing different treatment rooms aiding the needs of musculoskeletal, mental and oriental medicine, the Vietnamese architects have paid attention to integrating the interior design with ample presence of greenery. Even when the space exists on the seventh floor, without direct connection to the outdoors, the idea of reconnecting with nature indoors is explored through the fenestrations, indoor plants and materials including a unique selection of ceramic tiles. “According to the belief of those who practice this discipline, to effectively cure an ailment, a patient must be treated both physically and mentally. Because of that, the specialised clinical space's design seeks inspiration from the tranquillity of traditional Vietnamese architecture,” state the architects.
While designing the greenery of the interiors, the architects take the opportunity to integrate medicinal plants and herbs into it. Along with providing the space with more liveliness and connection to nature, the plants help the visitors understand the different herbs and their medicinal values. The architects further add, “Each and every formula can be replicated using herbs and plants familiar to every day's living. Thus, the greenery provides people with an alternative means of taking care of their own health, helps them connect more with nature, to become more responsible for their own and nature's well-being and less dependant on western medicine.”
Encompassing an experience for all senses, the design of the clinic indulges in presenting spaces to overwhelm the visitors. By using the potential of natural herbs and local materials to impart feelings, the spaces shapeshift from the perspective of healthcare design to a sensorial experience. "The Traditional Clinic SPD project demonstrates a combination of human, architectural and natural elements, utilising the traditional philosophy of medicine to connect and balance each of them. These aspects, under the context of a busy and dynamic modern way of living, provide people with a tranquil refuge, a space in which they are spiritually and physically healed.”
While reinterpreting healthcare architecture from purpose-built spaces to an experience for the users, architecture steps onto the realm of healing. Amid the many discussion on how architecture can help the medical field, the attempt from ODDO architects to bridge design, traditional medicine and the concepts of health extends a unique perspective to understanding architecture’s role in the typology. Within the last few years of exploring the potential of architecture, the industry has culminated its quest toward an understanding that architecture may have a cure for most problems of the world. Even though it sounds ambitious, the fact is that architecture doesn’t hold the answers to all questions. However, it is definitely engaging in necessary discourses of the current world offering possible interventions.