Rural healthcare in China currently faces a multitude of challenges. Rural institutions are generally unfavorable compared to those in urban locales. Government subsidies and the raise in doctor and hospital incomes also leads to overcharging and needless treatments and exams. Commissioned by a Hong Kong charity, the Institute for Integrated Rural Development designed a rural hospital prototype while helping foster a new attitude toward rural healthcare.
Working closely with the charity and government in Angdong Village of Hunan Province, our task was to develop a model rural healthcare building capable of supporting the many progressive reforms of rural hospital management and caregiving, which xincludes providing basic necessities absent in current establishments, some as simple as waiting rooms. Additionally, seeing that most institutions in China, such as schools and hospitals, are walled off and managed as contained programs, we were interested in reintroducing the hospital as a social hub.
The program of the hospital is reconfigured from its conventional form. The design begins with a simple strategy to provide a continuous ramp to all floors. A wide ramp allows for seating, improves circulation, and also creates a large central courtyard space open for public use. At the ground level, the courtyard provides additional steps for seating and serves as an outdoor waiting area. Materials consist of both recycled traditional bricks, which form the exterior façade, and custom-designed concrete screen blocks, which flank the interior spiral passageway. These custom blocks are cast in a flexible latex mold. The resulting courtyard exhibits a soft and smoothly changing quality, casting variable shadows throughout the day.