Healthcare Architecture and Patient Experience

Healthcare Architecture and Better Patient Experience
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, Singapore

When you think of hospitals, what immediately comes to your mind? Is it the tiny ward and narrow corridor? the distinct hospital smell?

Everyone would have experienced hospitals at some point in life, be it being hospitalised yourself or visiting families and friends. Hospitals, or any other types of healthcare facilities, are an integral part of social infrastructure that keeps the society running, especially important with the increasingly ageing population. Not only in Singapore, the ageing population is a prevalent social issue in other parts of Asia as well, including Japan, China, South Korea, etc. This unprecedented demographic shift inevitably places more demands on the healthcare sector, from investing in more infrastructure, promoting healthy lifestyles to improving patient care and patient experience.

As an architect specialising in healthcare design, I knew from the start that I had to take a fresh perspective on healthcare space design and make a difference in redefining the hospital experience patients and their families receive.

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) was my first healthcare project. During one of the early briefing discussions, the client inspired me to see a hospital not just like a repair shop where doctors fix people, instead, a hospital is a place to educate people about healthy lifestyles, promote wellness and enhance the healing process. The concept of “hospital in a garden, garden in a hospital” was adopted to integrate architecture with nature and break away from the traditional expectations of a hospital design, which is very clinical and function-driven.

All the features and design considerations were conceived with patients and visitors in mind. In order to provide maximum transparency and view, the façade of the hospital’s three blocks was opened up. This exposes the hospital to its adjacent lake, while a massive garden courtyard takes centre stage, introducing light and greenery to the lower levels. To give patients in each ward an opportunity to enjoy the sun and greenery, we made sure that massive windows and window plants were built into the design.

Not only featuring nature and greenery, the hospital is also sustainable and eco-friendly. Aluminium sunshades and light shelves were implemented to provide weatherproofing while courtyards, roof gardens and full-height glazing afford generous daylighting and ventilation. This resulted in less usage of air-conditioning in public areas, saving energy costs.

KPTH is not only a hospital for patients and visitors, it is also accessible and inclusive to members of the public to exercise, admire the greenery, enjoy a meal in the cafeteria or even study. Residents nearby also volunteer to work in the roof-top garden to produce organic fruits, herbs and vegetables, which are supplied to the hospital cafeteria as ingredients.

KTPH has been recognised as a premier hospital of the future, both regionally and internationally. Since then, my team and I have embarked on new projects to apply architecture in bettering patient experience, for example the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital in Jurong, where every ward features an innovative herringbone concept where 'every patient has a window', lowering the chances of cross-infection while allowing generous spaces for clinical bedside care.

This is just a start to the near future when hospitals and the memories of hospitals are being completed redefined to the better.

By Jerry Ong, Senior Vice President, Singapore Architecture, CPG Consultants