In the heart of the old city of Delhi, on the edge of the railway line, sandwiched between a masjid and remains of a burnt slum, a modern Polyclinic for the poorest of the poor has been built for the drug addicts, TB patients and the HIV positive people who live on the pavements of Lahori Gate.
Designed by architects Romi Khosla and Martand Khosla, this state of the art building has been donated to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi by The Sir Sobha Singh Public Charitable trust.
Polyclinic for the poorest The poor in and around Lahori gate area are in very bad health due to drug addiction, physical incapability and social desertion. Some have critical diseases like H.I.V. and T.B. They are homeless because they simply cannot afford shelter. Barely managing to feed themselves, they pull rickshaws or engage in casual daily labour. Some are sex workers and others get by through begging. The Polyclinic will serve these poor people in the neighborhood who cannot afford to get medical treatment and check-ups. The Polyclinic will be a day care referral medical relief centre.
Project hurdles. Completing the Polyclinic in this dense and crowded locality was not easy. The Polyclinic site had a dilapidated Chungi building that had provided shelter for the homeless and was a hub of drug related activities. Fully aware of these problems, the architects worked closely with the local community .
The adjacent mosque authorities too were suspicious of the intentions of the project until it was explained to them that the polyclinic was for the very poor who lived in the area. The location of the polyclinic abuts Railway land and their goodwill too was necessary for the success of the project.
Description of the Polyclinic
This simple building is four floors high and is equipped with a hospital lift. A large area in the basement provides ample space for a modern pathological laboratory. The ground floor has the reception as well as the Out Patient Department cubicles for the day time doctors and consultants.
Built in metal and glass, the new polyclinic is an intervention of contemporary architecture. Located adjacent to an old mosque, the polyclinic provides a fascinating contrast to the ancient buildings of old Delhi. The architects familiar with the slum conditions of that area as well as the dilapidated buildings in the surrounding streets, chose to revitalized this depressed urban fabric by creating a contemporary intervention in its midst which would serve the community. The contemporary architectural language of the building is deliberate and intended to stand out from the cacophony of the surrounding architecture as a formal, minimal space which is open and welcoming to all.
The Polyclinic has four floors each of 200 sq meters where laboratories, reception, consultation rooms, day time wards, doctors and nurse stations are situated. The fully glazed front façade provides a transparent view into the building enabling the poorer patients to approach the facility with less trepidation. Reception staff will be able to spot hesitant patients and encourage them to come within. Once they have been registered, the patients would proceed to the first floor for the treatment. These treatment areas require more privacy and have thus been shielded from view by colored aluminum louvers which provide a visual shield but allow full fresh air ventilation.
The choice of primary colors that combine the yellow and blue louvered façade and brightly ventilated areas seem radical yet these very combinations of colors announce the presence of a contemporary treatment centre, deliberately moving away from the macabre association with health centre architecture. Within, the glass partitioned consulting rooms and the bright ventilated waiting spaces, have created a unique treatment environment which has a tremendous amount of flexibility built into it, should the need to reconfigure the space in the future arises. The intention of this center is treatment as well as counseling for addicts. The architecture attempts here to make the centre both friendly and accessible for both these purposes.
The entire project has been funded by a public charitable Trust established by the most significant contractor to build the Lutyens capitol complex of Delhi. This is their second donation to the citizens of Delhi specifically for the benefit of the poorest citizens. The first project too was designed by Romi Khosla and Martand Khosla and provided accommodation for poor relatives of the poorest patients who came to care for the patients admitted to the public hospital.