As the country’s healthcare sector seeks avenues for smart development in medical facilities, the iconic Hamidia Hospital Complex at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, has been redeveloped into a world-class health centre through improved facilities, better education on health matters and enhanced access to regular healthcare services. The redesigned Hamidia Hospital was inaugurated by the Hon’ble CM of Madhya Pradesh Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The redevelopment of the heritage Hamidia Hospital Complex, which dates back to the 18th century, envisages the emergence of a “Smart Medi-City” that pertains to the global standards of contemporary hospital designs while retaining its old cultural legacy and layers of history. The adopted design approach attempts to bind the entire complex through a definite grammar, using development as a tool for conservation.
This remarkable project is a collaborative effort by CP Kukreja Architects (CPKA) and is set to revolutionize healthcare infrastructure with its visionary design and innovative approach.
In the words of Dikshu Kukreja, Managing Principal, CP Kukreja Architects, “The inauguration of the new and redesigned iconic Hamidia Hospital is a defining moment for us and the entire MP. It is truly a milestone event and gives us a great deal of satisfaction. It has been a very challenging project and has a lot of history and significance attached to it in being able to create a world-class super specialty hospital facility in what was otherwise an old institution that had a name but had overtime worn-out of facilities which are required for a modern hospital. It has been an extremely significant makeover and a new avatar for the healthcare system in Madhya Pradesh.”
Bhopal’s Hamidia Hospital is one of the oldest hospitals in the country, dating back to the 18th-century on the Fatehgarh Fort premises, located on the banks of the Grand Lake. Over the centuries, the complex has expanded to accommodate the changing, multidisciplinary healthcare needs of the ever growing city. Today, the layers of history — from the ASI-protected Mughal and British-era heritage buildings to the post-independence medical college — present as a palimpsest located at the heart of the city.
When CP Kukreja Architects took on the redevelopment project, many of these historical structures were found in a deplorable state with respect to basic services and living conditions. The adopted design approach attempts to bind the entire complex through a definite grammar, using development as a tool for conservation. The primary challenge in this approach was to curate a development model that prolongs the useful life of the otherwise nearly obsolete complex without greatly altering its cultural fabric.
Envisioning a Smart Medi-City
Developing a Medi-City revolves around the idea of a holistic approach for addressing the entire hospital complex rather than a singular building. This strategy is realised through two means:
Shared Infrastructure Development: Designing the Complex as an Extension of the City
The historically fortified complex no longer needs to be a walled urban element detached from the city but rather be a seamless part of it. The Grand Lake and the lakefront, which were separated from the surrounding by the fort’s imposing walls for a long time, must be brought back to the city and its people. To achieve this, the master plan opens the roads running into the complex to make the lakefront a large continuous public space, thereby creating a public space network as a major structuring element for the new master plan of the Fort Complex.
Encouraging the Development of a “City-Within-A-City”
The Hamidia Medi-City contains its own functional districts, public spaces, and a hierarchy of streets that encourage an environment-friendly living through:
– An extensive layout of pedestrian and cycle routes that encourage walking and cycling above vehicular commutes.
– Maximised provision of greenery and open spaces to encourage the natural landscape to become an integral part of the public realm.
– Reduction of pollution in the environment through extensive plantation, which helps the absorption of pollutants to a large extent, thereby keeping the air fresh and the local climate under control.
– Blurring boundaries between the interior and exterior spaces and creating recreational spaces at different levels to encourage outdoor activities.
– Encouraging nature as a healing element within the urban landscape.
Other elements include
Redefining Medical Infrastructure as Quintessential Building Blocks of a Healthy City
The Hamidia Hospital Complex is imagined as more than an urban infrastructure that serves the ailing. It is designed as an urban unit that also exemplifies healthy living conditions within the city. Such design measures include:
– Compact Development, i.e. keeping the building footprint as low as possible, leaving the maximum ground as a soft landscape.
– Incorporating passive design to minimise air-conditioning and other artificial mechanical controls, which often cause ‘sick-building syndrome.’
– Using non-polluting and non-hazardous building materials for construction so as to cause minimum damage to the environment.
– Formulating urban design guidelines for the complex that ensure continued maintenance of the public spaces.
Responsive Architecture: Designing the Complex as an Amalgamation of Nature and Engineered Technologies
The geographical setting of the complex plays a crucial role in defining the sustainability parameters of the Smart Medi-City. In response to the context, the design uses the existing social and environmental systems as major structuring elements on site. This is further reinforced with engineered technologies to allow the architecture of the complex to maximise its performance. In doing so, this design celebrates the fusion between natural and man-made technologies — a much-desired binary which the future of sustainable architecture beckons.
While the heritage structures were given new life through retrofitting and adaptive reuse, both the new and old structures are infused with state-of-the-art technology to serve the coming generations. The design also seeks contemporary metaphors for the age-old architectural details so as to blend them effortlessly into the modern, smart architectural vocabulary.
The Hamidia Medi-City exists amidst an urban fabric that spans a wide time frame, with various social characteristics and cultural ethos defining the complex’s morphology and its transformations. With the latest developments and rethinking of the historical structures, Hamidia is a magnet serving not just Bhopal’s population but also the surrounding towns and villages. The project hereby throws light on one of the most difficult concerns in the contemporary urbanisation of Indian cities, which deals with incorporating modern infrastructure in a timeless urban landscape composed of multiple layers of culture.