Hospital Design: Designing King’s College Hospital, Dubai

The importance of design

An artist’s impression of KCH

Stas Louca, Director of Architecture and Middle East Healthcare at Perkins+Will’s Dubai office, speaks about designing Dubai’s latest healthcare project – Kings College Hospital – and highlights the impact of patient-centric design on the healing process.

As evidence about the benefits of healing environments accumulates, healthcare architects around the world are starting to incorporate features into hospital design that reduce stress and promote healing.

Our company, Perkins+Will, has seen a growing awareness among healthcare organisations in the Middle East of the importance of findings from studies of environmental psychology, geography, sociology, architecture,landscape architecture, interior design, nursing, medicine and public health that demonstrate how patient-centric design can reduce stress and alleviate the physical outcomes associated with it. These considerations in design can also help prevent medical errors and hospital acquired infections.

Our company places a strong focus on the end user of our projects and we always consider the level of wellness we can provide. This type of design within the healthcare sector is called ‘patientcentric’ and we are delighted to be given the opportunity to exercise our core values on the new Kings College Hospital (KCH), in Dubai.

Project overview
King College Hospital is a new specialised facility focusing on four centres of excellence: Obstetrics and Gynaecology,Paediatrics, Orthopaedics, Endocrinology and liver transplants.

The main public lobby of KCH

A typical patient room at KCH

Centrally located in Dubai, between downtown Marina to the south and the Financial District to the north, this site has a prominent presence and the potential to create a strong architectural identity for both the KCH and its developer, Dubai Hills Estate Development. The hospital was positioned to provide visual prominence from Marabea Street and easy way finding for visitors. The central Dubai location provides the opportunity to capitalise on a wide range of views of the Dubai skyline, all of which are factors intentionally maximised upon to create this patient-centric development.

The site was a vacant lot with an area of approximately 25,488 sqm. The north side provides the main public access to the project and this entrance leads directly into a drop-off loop with canopy protection at the main entrance. Visitors to the hospital have easy access to surface parking immediately adjacent to the dropoff loop to both the east and west sides, with a valet option at the main entrance. The south side provides access for staff, service vehicles and ambulances.

The project will be a phased construction, with phase one comprising a 23,000 sqm floor area, which is organised over eight floors and will accommodate three levels of treatment and diagnostics and four floors of inpatient beds. Phase one will also accommodate 325 car parking spaces for staff and visitors.

Phase two will be a horizontal expansion of approximately 16,000 sqm to all levels of the project and a five-level parking structure to accommodate approximately 410 cars. This expansion is designed to be seamlessly integrated into phase one of construction as a single architectural expression.

The main building entrance is a public lobby complete with a three-story atrium. A bank of elevators to all visitor-accessible floors is located on the western side of the building, adjacent to the entry lobby. Visitors will experience first contact with hospital personnel at the reception upon entry and be directed to their destination. A café space is provided at the northeast end of the ground floor.

Patient-centric design
The hospital is designed, in its entirety, to consider the patient experience, from the moment the patient arrives to moment they complete their treatment and leave KCH while ensuring a high level of sustainability. Protection from the harsh sun is provided through multiple means, such as self-shading exterior façades, multiple soaring canopies surrounding the building and sheltered gardens. At the entrance, a fountain provides a coolingeffect while multiple lush gardens at ground level provide needed shade. The development is capped by a roof garden accessible to the public, patients and staff where it is planned to include areas for rehabilitation and relaxation.

There are plenty key healing features we have incorporated into the design of KCH as follows:

Design: Outside of the consideration for patient-led design, it is important to consider the external environment. We endeavour to fit our designs into their particular surroundings, considering culture, climate and surrounding buildings. The brief given to us for this project was to create something with a modern feel yet in keeping with the site’s landscape, including the skyline, nature and surrounding buildings. The exterior draws inspiration from the natural beauty of the desert and the façade is an interpretation of the shading effect generated by the textured landscape of wind-blown sand. This texture has been abstracted as an architectural expression wrapping the hospital to provide self-shading and aid in direct solar exposure.

Sustainable: We have worked on the premise of using a thermal mass façade to control solar gain and cooling, reducing air conditioning consumption needs. We have considered solar orientation and detail to include LED lighting and natural shading.

Increased connection to nature: Studies have shown as little as three minutes of contact with nature significantly reduces stress, anger and fear. For KCH we have built in windows with landscape and downtown skyline views in each, single patient increasing levels of natural light, in turn inducing calmness. In addition, particularly with the paediatric ward we have included artwork into the design of the walls to create texture and nature designs on the ceilings in the form of backlit stretch fabrics.

Way finding: From the moment you arrive at KCH you are able to easily navigate through distinct signage and key landmarks within the hospital. To create a feeling of control this element is important for patients, staff and visitors alike.

Good use of space: We have included multiple green spaces for proven improvement to mood and shorter hospital stays. We have designed a stunning garden within the compound and made use of the rooftop to include a vegetable garden to support the rehabilitation for dexterity patients.

Control of your environment: Giving patients a sense of control can significantly decrease stress. In our design of KCH we have enabled each patient to control their own in-room environment. We have created an area where patients are able to control everything from lighting, sound and temperature to when they would like their meals and what they would like to eat. All of these components are centrally controlled by a handset attached to the patient’s bed.

Safety and infection control: Paramount to healing, combined with global best practice and conformity to DHA standards, everything from surfaces to air control is considered in our design.

Positive diversion: when healing it is important to create positive and calming distractions for patients. This can include nature inside the building, play areas, overhead back-lit screens, nature based artwork-which we integrate as part of the overall design. Family spaces and common rooms plus calming outside spaces can be maximised for use during the cooler months. Positive diversion works for patients, visitors and staff with an overall positive calming effect.

Visitors: It has been proven patient visits from family and friends promote healing. To this end we have ensured we have catered to visitors’ comfort as well, providing rooms, which can accommodate visitors comfortably, a sofa which converts to a bed and common spaces with amenities to cater to the needs of comfort.

There are a multitude of considerations taken into account and adapted for this project and the above are key examples for future consideration within the healthcare design space.

In conclusion
This project holds historical sentiment due to the UAE’s strong ties with King’s College Hospital London going back to 1979, when the nation’s founder, His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, provided a donation that helped establish the King’s liver research centre; now among the top three liver specialist centres in the world. It has been a pleasure for our 15-strong team of architects, purposely selected from our 105 specialist architects in the firm to work on this project and create an optimal healing, patientcentric environment. At Perkins+Will we have access to a centralised hub of global ‘knowledge experts’ allowing us to draw on a multitude of specialist skillsets and global expertise. For the programming and design review elements of this project, for example, the Los Angeles, London and Dubai offices collaborated to create a brief. This has enabled us to create an evidenced based design approach with core local knowledge.



Date of upload: 15th Jan 2018

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