Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
ABC Cancer Center in Mexico City by HKS, Inc.
September 1st, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: HKS, Inc.
The synergy of the Centro de Cancer ABC (American British Cowdray Cancer Center) creates an optimal treatment environment for patients challenged with persevering through an intimidating and life-changing experience.
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Located in Mexico City, this comprehensive oncology center integrates radiation therapy, chemotherapy, minor procedures, clinical multi-specialty teams, diagnostics, and patient support and education. Many of the services currently scattered throughout the campus are now consolidated into one multi-modality center. This facility also brings many of the oncology specialists together in one building, creating a multi-disciplined team organization for physicians and staff.
Chemotherapy is located on the top floor and provides views of the city skyline through landscaped terraces just outside the windows. A healing garden provides respite for patients, visitors and staff, and is adjacent to Christian and Jewish chapels.
A portion of the project site is allotted for a neighborhood park to further serve the community and integrate the building into the neighborhood fabric. The entire street edge of the building has landscaping along the perimeter. Patient drop-off and valet services are available at two levels, and grade-level parking is located immediately adjacent to the building.
Several factors played a role in the design challenge; the odd-shaped urban site locked the project between older residential buildings, streets, a group of old warehouses and a small triangular strip of land. The main hospital sits across the street, so the approach was to find connectivity with it, take advantage of views of the city skyline toward the south and prevent undesired views of adjacent rooftops, while at the same time providing with much needed natural light into every space available. A combination of vision glass was used to enhance and frame views, while spandrel and sandblasted glass served to block and filter natural light in others, so patients would not face undesired lines of sight.
The need to create a front that drivers would recognize as the main entry, due to the street’s disorderly layout shaped a four-story glazed atrium that acts as the generator of the overall form; its concave glass follows the newly-introduced roundabout that leads visitors and patients under the drop-off canopy. This solution enabled the design team to re-introduce and expand the existing green space and enhance it, connecting it visually to the building and intertwining it with the urban fabric.
The use of generous spaces throughout helps staff by traversing them in a quick direct way, the overall building layout ensures a direct link to all clinical and public areas and way finding has been simplified by connecting the vertical circulation to transition areas that overlook a 4-story Atrium. Every corridor has a direct view out and 70% of the areas are in direct contact with natural light; it can be said that in a world where cancer is treated within the confines of thick concrete walls, this particular center focuses on openness, which has helped staff and patients alike during the treatment process. It has been stated by nurses, doctors and patients alike that in a Hospital that treats 8,000 people a day they still get a feeling of calmness and tranquility once they cross the connecting bridge. A lot of attention was paid to ceiling heights and surface treatments generating an optimal feeling of warmth, transparency and lightness so a sense of confinement is quickly dispelled. The way visitors and patients enter the building is very straight forward, with direct connections through the underground parking, Drop-Off canopy and connecting bridge, this ensures ease of access by weakened patients.
Its presence is an important factor in helping develop the area further; the fact that a state-of-the-art facility was developed brought much-improved services and an overall cleanup of the urban context. Vehicle speed has been lowered due to a rethinking of the building’s access and green areas have been reintroduced, not just as part of the complex, but as an integral part of the neighborhood. This line of thought followed through with the introduction of greenery in the building itself to help the patient experience by creating a comforting atmosphere, the fourth floor chemotherapy area contains a rooftop garden that rearranges lines of sight, helps nurture a feeling of respite by promoting close contact with soothing natural elements, facilitates centering patient attention and establishes a passive solar system that helps protect the building from exposure. The thorough use of glass enables natural light in, benefiting all clinical and public areas. The honest use of regional materials and craftsmanship ensured that the building could be built by locals, using readily available construction methods.
The overall condition of the pre existing site included disused old warehouses and no vegetation whatsoever, with a disconnection to streets, which made it difficult to navigate the area; this new center introduced vegetation not only in its perimeter, but also by re-introducing a small upgraded neighborhood park as well as a roof top vegetated terrace and healing/meditating garden.
The quality of life was enhanced by controlling vehicle circulation that brings added benefits to the neighborhood as well as limited parking on streets, the environment benefited by having the large expanses of glass reflect natural heat back to the atmosphere and not onto the adjacent buildings, thus thwarting Heat Island effect/glare. The careful layout of interior spaces and their direct connection to the outside enabled favorable views out, while ensuring privacy; the widespread use of vision/sandblasted glass enables the minimal use of artificial lighting inside.
Due to the lack of use for hot water, expensive heavy equipment was not introduced, helping the energy efficiency of the building, while at the same time bringing operation costs down.
This building has prompted various small businesses to sprawl around the area to serve the added patients/staff, helping the locals expand their income.
Centro de Cancer ABC received the International Citation of Merit, 2010 Healthcare Design Awards.
HKS, ranked among the nation’s top healthcare architectural firms by Modern Healthcare, understands and embraces holistic healthcare. The firm’s celebrated healthcare architecture experience includes 1,350 unique projects representing 71,600 beds and 131 million square feet garnered over 165 design awards. Operating from 23 offices worldwide, the firm focuses on innovative design, process and delivery. Through a focused visioning approach, HKS collaborates with each client to evaluate transformational concepts that support and improve the patient/family experience, operational efficiency, the latest in technology and future flexibility. For more information, visit www.hksinc.com.
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