The Hong Kong Children’s Hospital (HKCH) in Kai Tak is the first children’s hospital that specialises in paediatric medical services in Hong Kong’s public healthcare system. The hospital commenced construction in 2013 and will come into operation by phases in the fourth quarter of this year. Unlike conventional hospitals which give one a sense of solemnity, the HKCH is designed to create a personalised, non-institutional, child-friendly, comfortable and home-like environment that provides the best clinical care by taking a patient-centred approach. The hospital is also committed to incorporating environmental-friendly elements, such as the wide application of sustainable design concepts and energy saving installations, as well as increasing green coverage. Recently, accompanied by the Director of Architectural Services, Mrs LAM YU Ka-Wai, Sylvia, and colleagues of the Architectural Services Department (ArchSD), I have visited the new hospital building and learned more about the architectural features of the hospital.
The Government has all along attached great importance to the long-term development and planning of hospitals to meet the ever increasing demand of society. When designing and building this children’s hospital, colleagues of the ArchSD put in a lot of efforts and maintained close communication with the Hospital Authority and the relevant stakeholders. According to Mrs Sylvia LAM, the hospital, with a site area of around 22 000 square metres, consists of the Training and Research Tower and the Clinical Tower each of 11 stories tall, which provide a total floor space of around 168 000 square metres with a capacity of 468 in-patient and day beds. There is a central garden between the two towers on ground level, and a central rehabilitation garden is built at the atrium on the fourth floor of the Clinical Tower to let child patients undergo simple rehabilitation training while providing more space for them and their families for activity.
Injecting elements of green architectural design and technology
The HKCH is the first public hospital in Hong Kong to achieve Provisional Platinum, the highest rating in Building Environmental Assessment Method Plus (BEAM Plus). To uphold the planning principle of green building, our colleagues have given full consideration to aspects such as the building site, land use, energy and water consumption, procurement of construction materials and quality of indoor environment. Regarding the use of open space, the connection between the hospital and the adjacent waterfront promenade and its podium-free design ensure maximum permeability of the ground floor, so as to offer broad views and enhance the quality of the environment. Moreover, the two towers are built about 45 metres apart to enhance air circulation and minimise impact on the surrounding environment, which will ensure that developments behind the towers can also enjoy the sea view. The H-shape design of the Clinical Tower and the layout of the internal courtyard effectively let in natural light and allow natural air circulation, and significantly increase the connectivity between the towers and the surrounding environment.
According to Mrs Sylvia LAM, the HKCH has an overall green coverage of 40 percent of the site area. The roofing materials, extensive green roof and vertical green wall in the architectural design can help reduce the buildings’ solar heat gain and mitigate the heat island effect.
In terms of green technology, the HKCH is the first hospital in Hong Kong to use the district cooling system, which consumes less electricity compared with the conventional air-cooled air-conditioning system. In addition, the rooftops of the two towers are installed with solar hot water panels to generate hot water and photovoltaic panels to generate solar electricity, so as to effectively save energy and create environmental benefits. Efficient sanitary fittings and a rainwater recycling system are also used to reduce overall water consumption.
Creating a warm and comfortable atmosphere
As far as I know, to reduce children’s anxieties and the boring impression they get of hospitals, the design team has poured much thought into the interior designs in the hope of providing a warm, comfortable and healing or pleasant work atmosphere for child patients and the staff alike. On the day of our visit, as soon as we entered the ground floor lobby of the building, we saw the colourful jungle-themed environmental decorations featuring large trees and flying birds to welcome children and visitors. A range of eight animal motifs are used as the themes for different floors, namely the monkey, flamingo, panda, kangaroo, parrot, koala, dolphin and octopus. The animal-themed decorations are installed in frequently used areas, which will offer easily noticeable instructions to guide child patients and their families to their intended floors. The interesting animal motifs on the walls can also provide topics for conversation among the medical staff, child patients and their families.
In choosing a thematic animal for each floor, the design team has conducted questionnaire surveys with the medical staff from various departments. The team has also hosted workshops to explain how to use these decorations to tell stories to children and bring vibrancy to the hospital. The designers have especially chosen plants and animals from different habitats ranging from grasslands, forests to oceans, so as to enable children to use their imagination to create a myriad of stories.
A hospital with exclusive designs for children
Many facilities in the hospital are built exclusively for children. For example, space is provided on the side of each in-patient bed to accommodate a foldable bed for patients’ families to stay overnight, and there are 20 rooms in the parents’ quarters for rest and grooming. In the Clinical Tower, there are a play room and a living room on each floor for children and their families. The passages and staircases are built with handrails suitable to children’s height. Everything in the hospital proves that a patient-centred approach is adopted.
The children’s hospital is extensive in area. The two towers are connected by bridges on the second, third and ninth floors to facilitate the child patients, their families and the staff to go around between the towers. Apart from clinical facilities such as the wards, the integrated rehabilitation centre, operating theatres and the specialist out-patient clinic, the hospital also has research and training facilities including the research laboratory, simulation training centre, library and auditorium, so as to raise the professional standards and quality of paediatric medical services in Hong Kong. I look forward to the smooth commissioning of the HKCH to deliver quality medical care for children and to showcase to the public the patient-centred architectural features in the hospital.
18 March, 2018Back