A planned 3,000m2 medical facility in Chiba specializing on podiatric treatment for in-patients and other patients in various stages of treatment including rehabilitation and surgery. The hospital head aims to make the facility the top in the world for podiatric treatments.
When approaching the design, we attempted to convey the importance of balancing the environment, service and expertise in a hospital. The words “nature” and “natural” have multiple meanings. In the design for this hospital, there are at least three different ways the concept of “nature” and being “natural” is incorporated.
The first “natural” aspect of the design is the way the construction blends into the landscape and scenery. If the hospital aims to be the world’s best for treatment methods, the structure needs to powerfully convey that message. By mimicking a geological formation, the design looks like it was organically built into the surrounding landscape and conveys a sense of energy and life.
The second “natural” aspect of the design is naturally occurring communication.
I’m sure we’ve all seen lounges that are completely ignored. In Japanese, the word lounge is written as “conversation room” but conversation isn’t born just through a room’s name. We took a different approach when designing the lounge.
By taking advantage of the corridor, which is required by law in any hospital, and strategically placing tables and chairs, we created a space that serves as a lounge. With patients having to walk through it when going outside to enjoy the hospital garden visible from their rooms, they are met with the opportunity to speak with other patients that might be sitting there. This “lounge” is a not a place where people go to because they want to have conversations but rather a space that naturally encourages conversations to happen.
The third “natural” aspect of the design is natural materials. Stone, wood and other natural materials are used throughout the design in order to evoke a relaxing feeling of being outdoors in order for patients and staff to feel as comfortable as possible.
Creating a feeling of being outdoors while being inside is a focus of our designs regardless of the type of space. Nature is a fundamental part of human existence. That needs to be kept in mind when thinking what kind of environments or spaces people would feel comfortable in.
After working on many designs for hospitals, we have come to see this as the solution to the “unnatural” environments that plague many hospitals. In addition to the importance of the treatment methods, the level of service for the patients, the movement through the hospital and the level of comfort of the space itself all have an important impact on the overall experience. When choosing a hospital, especially for in-patients, a comfortable environment is obviously the desired choice. Having to go to a hospital can be an emotionally stressful experience. However, by using the space to create a feeling of comfort, many problems associated with the typical hospital experience can be solved.