the old Huzhou Central Hospital was a high-rise facility surrounded by similar buildings in the city’s traditional downtown area. The setup has created a cramped experience for staff, patients and their families, says hospital director Ma Jianming.

When it came time to replace the 1940s facility, hospital officials deliberately chose a site about three miles away with a distinctly different vibe: a 42-acre campus on the southern shores of Lake Tai.

While the buildings on the site occupy 2.6 million square feet, the land also has about 975,000 square feet of green space to create a garden-style hospital, Jianming says. “By taking this approach, those who visit will feel relaxed, peaceful and hopeful,” Jianming said.

Hospital building plans

Committed to turning this vision into reality has been Perkins and Will (Shanghai), who served as lead architect on the project. It was completed in October 2020.

The company’s overall plan includes four buildings located on either side of a curved east/west axis. The north side of this axis is bordered by the main hospital, which consists of a four-story diagnostic/treatment base topped by two 11-story patient towers, each with 600 beds.

A five-story VIP outpatient clinic and a nine-story VIP hospital tower with 300 beds complete the hospital complex. On the south side of the axis are a pair of interconnected outpatient clinics and a stand-alone building for staff offices and meeting rooms.

In approaching the architecture of the building, the designers used forms inspired by the medical nature of the facility’s services, says Jason Hsun, senior partner at Perkins&Will and lead designer of the project.

For example, patient towers are designed to rise out of the hospital podium to look like an X chromosome, while ambulatory and administrative structures have rectangular shapes and rounded sides to evoke single-celled creatures such as a paramecium.

Maximize green space

Additionally, at the “core”, or center, of each of the buildings is an exterior courtyard that extends from the ground floor to the roof with glazed walls that provide natural light, ventilation and greenery to the living areas. public waiting areas and staff corridors. .

Similar courtyards were also incorporated into the base of the main hospital. “The idea is to bring the outside in, because it’s energizing for those in such spaces,” Hsun says.

Access to nature was also ensured by the hospital’s many green spaces. The northern end of the site features a pedestrian-only area bordered by natural wetlands, lush landscaping, and a gentle river flowing around the perimeter of the site.

“All of this creates a calm and peaceful environment for patients and visitors,” says Runchao Xu, Associate Senior Manager/CTO at Perkins&Will.

Interior Design Features

The Hospital Group’s main pedestrian entrance is a four-story glass pavilion supported by four bell-shaped columns, clerestory windows and an interior palette of natural wood tones to create a welcoming ambience. Just past the entrance is a decompression space that houses a “Tree of Life” sculpture.

“In times of heightened anxiety, the tree symbolizes hope and serves to lift a patient’s spirits, while representing the fundamental human connection with nature,” Xu explains.

The sculptural tree also serves as the central anchor for a four-story main hallway with a glass skylight that runs lengthwise across the base of the building. On each floor, this open space is flanked by corridors that lead to services such as pharmacy, transfusion and imaging.

“Because this hospital is so large, we thought creating a central ‘medical street’ with extensive signage would better reflect its user-friendly design DNA,” says Hsun of Perkins&Will.

Breaking design standards

Such design features, including central atriums and skylights, are more common in commercial retail projects in China as place-makers and to activate public gathering spaces, Hsun notes. By implementing them at Huzhou Central Hospital, he says, the project team was able to break through the country’s conventional approach to healthcare design.

“I always take it as a compliment when patients tell me that the spaces don’t make them feel like they’re in a hospital,” he says.

Matthew Hall is a Cincinnati-based freelance writer/editor. He can be contacted at [email protected]