SOM is behind the new Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi, which will feature all kinds of “retail therapy!”
The 2.5 million square foot Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi will combine three state of the art hospitals in one giant, green space. Aiming for two Estidama pearls, the new center designed by SOM will replace the existing Sheikh Khalifa Medical Center and will incorporate a variety of passive techniques to combat the heat.
SEHA, the Abu Dhabi Health Service company, is keen to ensure a sense of peace and comfort for both patients and visitors, so the sprawling medical center will be arranged around lobbies, cafes, courtyards, hanging gardens, and retail facilities. The idea seems to be that a little retail therapy goes a long way to help visitors avoid looking at sickness and death.
The new medical “city within a city” in Abu Dhabi will be constructed on the site of the soon-to-be-demolished existing medical center, although it is unclear what effort will be made to re-use or recycle the materials. It will then be stacked on top of a giant stone plinth that references historical Arab architecture.
Green courtyards will create continuity between the General Hospital, Women’s Center, and Pediatric Hospital, all of which will be shared with exterior sun screens. The women’s center will feature geometric screens reminiscent of the mashrabiya, while the children’s medical facility will be screened by “bright, colorful, and organic patterns.”
The hanging gardens and indoor trees will create a cool microclimate in defiance of high temperatures – particularly doing hot and humid summer months. Rooftop solar collectors will contribute to the program’s energy mix while fabric scrims will be used to provide additional shading against the sun.
A variety of other passive design techniques will be employed, including natural ventilation and daylighting.
It’s hard to knock a medical center. They are important and this is a thoughtful design. And we have been grateful for hospitals in the United States that provide Starbucks coffee and small gift shops that ease hours of waiting and worrying about sick loved ones.
But materialism is no substitute for the human experience, and what makes us more human than sickness and death?
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