Every year, the coastal line of India faces extreme floods and deadly cyclones leading to loss of life and property. In such cases, when hospitals should be a hub for seeking shelter and treatment, they are in fact flooded with no power backup. My M.Arch thesis titled ‘Disaster proof hospital’ is a small initiative to help architects design well-equipped hospitals that are disaster resilient, especially in case of floods and cyclones.

Project Name: Disaster Proof Hospital
By: Nishat Khan

©Nishat Khan

A progressive approach to planning must be applied where measures are taken to reduce the impact of flood waters first at site>structure>planning>interior levels. This will ensure safety at all levels, and the after effects of flood will keep on decreasing at each stage.

The following are the key features of disaster resiliency in the project:

Upside-down planning: All the structure is constructed above the base flood elevation (BFE). However, in case of massive flooding, the lower floors are likely to get affected the most. Therefore, an ‘upside-down’ planning strategy is adopted where all the non-critical, easily movable activities like administration, outpatient department is placed on the lower floors and the critical, hazardous, non-movable activities like services (control room, electrical room, gas manifold, communications), ICU, pharmacy etc. are placed on the upper floors.

©Nishat Khan

Airways and water ways provision: During flooding, roadways are blocked.Thus,the ramp leading to the emergency department can double up as a boat launch area to receive patients requiring treatment and sending off the cured ones. Also, a helipad on the roof can receive critically ill patients via helicopter.

Cafeteria cum triage area: In case of a disaster, when the number of patients increase exponentially, a large open space like cafeteria can be transformed to triage (a place where patients are treated according to the degree of emergency). The seating of cafeteria is such that those seats can be transformed into beds as and when needed.

©Nishat Khan

Low height plants and lights: In case of cyclones, since tall trees and electric poles are more susceptible to breakage leading to more damage, only low height plants and lights are used as landscaping elements.

Signage above BFE: All the important signage stand tall above the base flood elevation. They are sturdy in design and visible from far off. This is done to make navigation easier for coming patients via boats when rising water of flood can submerge lower level signage.

©Nishat Khan

Cyclone proof façade design: In case of cyclones, a sloped surface behaves better since it breaks the flow of wind and poses less pressure. Therefore, a sloped façade element here acts as a protective shield from high impact objects/debris that might hit the building in case of cyclones while also breaking the flow of wind and slowing it down.

My design aim was to make the hospital the last building standingin case of disaster. This helped me ponder over all the possible failures that the hospital might face and to work towards rectifying the problem.

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