The newly formed state of Chattisgarh in India, has witnessed large-scale industrial development due to its rich mineral deposits.

A masterplan for its new capital city ( NAYA RAIPUR) has been drawn up and a 350 acre plot of land was adopted by the Vedanta Group to develop a cancer hospital , with adjoining residential, teaching , wellness center & spa facilities on 50 acres, run purely on a non-profit basis.

This also involved developing a macro-level plan for the additional 350 acres of land surrounding the hospital , incorporating a sports, commercial and educational complex and generating a horticultural and agricultural industry to sustain the campus and the surrounding villages, to aid in laying the foundation for sustainable development not only on the site but also around it. As one of the first projects to begin work, our site was an opportunity to establish a benchmark , not just for future medical facilities, but for integrated sustainable development in the rest of the city. A workshop was organised and presided over by experts in the field of oncology from India and abroad, in order to prepare a white paper/manifesto on cancer treatment for the next 2 decades.

This was an exercise in addressing the issue of cancer coverage for a state where cancer had overtaken cardiac disease in terms of mortality rates. A plan to develop a tertiary care center, linked to 5 secondary care centers , each served by 3 mobile units. This Hospital is designed to be, first and foremost, patient -centric . Critical movement paths of patients/doctors/services/visitors and 3-dimensional functional interconnectivity have been synergistically established as an outcome of the workshop. The focus rests on the patient , at both a physiological and psychological level, and although the effect of nature, green spaces and water is not quantifiable, they have been integrated and emphasized at every level of planning. It represents a convergence and merging of science and spirituality, and nowhere is this more symbolized than at the extremities of the building spine. At the northern end, a subterranean meditation center is accessed through trees and a waterbody and captures the first rays of the sun. At the western end is a teaching facility, library and auditorium. It is a representation of our collective acknowledgment that, when confronted with the difficult and ambiguous issue of our own impermanence, the journey within can often provide answers that external sources fail to yield.

An east-west spine has been developed as a street flanked by all the out-patient and diagnostic facilities, and containing all common-visitor facilities ( atm’s,pharmacy, restrooms, cafes etc) along its length. The main out-patient entrance and registration is designed to process and disseminate a large number of referrals , and to surmount the inevitable problem of communication and navigation that occurs in a country with multiple languages and dialects, colour coded cards are handed out so patients can follow graphic vectors on the floor to their destination . Individual out-patient pods corresponding to different parts of the human anatomy are arrayed in a north-facing waterbody , interspersed with landscaped courts and connected to the street via sub-spines . These pods are differentiated by their modified roof profiles, manipulated individually within a common structural framework to bring north light into the waiting areas, a principle that extends into the main street and the sub-spines.

The areas in the north are oriented to make the most of the soft natural light, and a journey to the pods inevitably leads you past landscaped break-out areas. Major diagnostics, radiotherapy and the proposed proton accelerator are functions that require very restricted natural light and are therefore arrayed on the south of the spine as solid bunkers, where they shield the spine and the intermediate courtyards from the harsh south sun. The chemotherapy and imaging blocks are placed further east along the spine and fragmented courts bring natural light into working and waiting areas. The street ensures highly streamlined patient movement whilst always keeping them in contact with nature. A service tube runs below the spine to carry services through the length of the facility and branches out at critical locations to provide tap -offs. The inpatient areas are accessed by a separate entry in the north-east, where a large lobby with common facilities acts as a node to channel restricted movement further into the facility. Certain facilities, like a lounge with slumberettes, were added to contextually adapt the in-patient areas to Indian sociology. The in-patient wards are stacked to optimize services and circulation.

The 1st level of the facility is restricted primarily to the doctor and staff areas, and these have been translated as diagrams connecting volumes to critical points of contact below. The operation theatres, surgical ICU’s , and medical ICU’s are also located at this level, as is a compact cardiac facility. ( Super-specialty cancer centers are considered redundant as cancer affects all parts of the body, and in order to be self-sustaining , this facility needed to be equipped to handle all possible contingencies. Other parts of the anatomy could be dealt with , but cardiac complications required some additional attention). A thorough study was done to ensure the sustainability of this building . All flat roofs are being developed as green areas ( this also ensures that even areas like operation theatres look out onto green spaces), solar panels have been used extensively on south and west facing areas. Orientations have been studied for glazing and wind movements. The major circulation areas have been designed for natural ventilation in good weather, and free-cooling in warm weather ( temperatures of upto 45 degrees can be reached.) Rain water harvesting, geo-thermal energy and a host of other measures have been taken . We have tried to develop a model that is as technologically progressive is it is humane, a salve for both the body and the mind.