Medical and Research Centres are complex and sensitive subjects, simply because they not only represent an induction of prevailing and current thought processes but more also feature an attempt to peer into the looking glass that is the future. They should also reflect levels of knowledge and sensitivity that culminate in excellence of patient care, in terms of both the body and the mind, whilst incorporating technologies and approaches to diagnosis, treatment planning and therapy that are currently relevant, but are capable of change and expansion in the future.
The Institute was intended to be an ’Island of Excellence’ in providing a comprehensive ‘cancer’ cover for the entire state of Rajasthan, a lofty objective indeed! Personally, we realized this was a unique opportunity to weave together two seemingly paradoxical streams – the philosophy of the East with the technical excellence of the West. We have to address the Mind of the Patient, not only the Body. We attempted to achieve this through an understanding of the timeless philosophy expounded by our ancestors and thought this would be a unique and exciting foray into un-chartered territory.
To realize this, we drew up a base matrix, which we felt covered most of the major parameters/issues we had listed in our study. The ‘issues’ here refer to distinct demands made by a hospital of this nature and the entire planning process catered to resolving the same. The determination to make the place user-friendly is evident in the emphasis given to the functionality of the place. Circulation routes for staff, patients and visitors were meticulously worked out and segregated to facilitate user convenience.
The various departments both connect and branch out from the central spine and the diverse functions (OPD, in-patient, ICU, theatre suite, Admin) are sensitively placed such that they compliment each other in the layout. To conserve energy as well as optimise area usage, the plan facilitates the provision to shut off complete departments, viz. OPD/Complex Diagnostics, without affecting the other areas of the Centre.
To conserve energy as well as optimise area usage, the plan facilitates the provision to shut off complete departments, viz. OPD/Complex Diagnostics, without affecting the other areas of the Centre. This has resulted in the saving of considerable amount of energy. The design has effectively provided for the induction of the latest medical equipment and IT comprehensive systems, without compromising on the local flavour that the design set out to achieve. The outer shell and configuration of the inner spaces clearly find their inspiration from its locale. The harsh extremes of the Rajasthan climate necessitated the study of sun directions, consequent placement of fenestration (most of which are deeply shaded), thick stone walls for insulation and the creation of semi-open landscaped courts that would permit both, visitors and patients to enjoy the outdoors.
The stones used are local Rajasthan sandstones viz. Dholpur and Agra-red. The two are inter-twined to accentuate the massing of the walls. Stone pergolas have been used to diffuse light.
The structure is a combination of load-bearing stone walls and R.C.C. frame (long spans) with stone cladding.
Flooring is a combination of Khaitan green stone, Jaisalmer-yellow and Makrana-white. The Chaurasta flooring is inspired by the time dial in the Jai Singh observatory. Although essentially basic and modern, the architecture of the Institute brings to life the ‘spirit’ of the heritage that characteristics the city of Jaipur. The exterior with its interplay of huge stone walls and intersecting planes, the complex geometry, the traditional ‘red’ and ‘beige’ desert sand stones that are textured and juxtaposed into the overall composition and above all the play of light and shade, each echo in timeless association. The people instantly recognise this.
This ‘feeling’ of familiarity with its surroundings is carried through into the interiors with the creation of multiple ‘courtyard’ spaces that gently filter suffused light into the circulation and waiting areas.
Light is drawn through a fascinating array of skylights into the multiple out-patient courts, from the ribbon of light that pours through the observatory-like dome, to the sixteen sculptured skylights of the main OPD. Light becomes ethereal as it gleams through tiny shafts (reminiscent of the temples) and generates a sublime and tranquil environment.
Recognizing the end user to be vernacular, perhaps even illiterate, the problem of language/ signage systems was completely solved when we used the passion for colour that is the hallmark of Rajasthan into simple colour-coded pathways. The traditional Chaurasta of radiating streets, coupled with colour coding, resolved and made the process of path-finding effortless.
The entire plan draws upon the concept of the Mandala, the very model for the city of Jaipur itself. The plan follows the principle of nine squares with the main blocks being the, OPD, Diagnostic, Admin, OT suites/ICU, in-patient, future expansion and the ‘garden’ courts with the meditation cells. The spine runs diagonally across the Mandala – connecting all the major activities.
INSPIRATION In my travel in the Himalaya Region decades ago, I think, lies my first awakening and fascination for ‘stone’. From the harsh mountain stony landscapes of Ladakh to the simple rock-cut single caves used by the yogis for meditation, the stone quarries at Luxor and at Jodhpur I began to see the march of evolution exemplified by the myriad layers of stone formations. I have since attempted to start a ‘dialogue’ with stone. The Bhagwan Mahaveer Cancer Hospital is, I think, a beginning in what I call an ongoing relationship with stone. I have attempted to study and comprehend the nuances of stone use in Rajasthan as it has developed over centuries manifesting expressions as extreme as those of the fort to the fine filigree stone screens. The Bhagwan Mahaveer Cancer Hospital is conceptualized as virtually hewn out of a single monolithic block of stone, albeit in a contemporary avatar. The layered massing of the stone walls in the plug in ‘services’ units, the rhythm of the stone exteriors and the ‘Hubble Telescope’ dome are ‘metaphors’ from the fort walls the relief work in stone and Jai Singh’s observatory as much as the plan is inspired by the Jaipur Master-plan.