The EKH Children’s Hospital was designed by Bangkok-based design firm Integrated Field (IF) with colourful curving elements, invoking a playful spatial sense, based on the design tenet “Playing is Healing.” By creating a “children’s dimension,” IF opposes the usual, sometimes sombre design of clinics and hospitals and instead provides a setting of fun whimsy and warmth.

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EKH Children Hospital_©Ketsiree Wongwan
EKH Children Hospital by IF (Integrated Field) - Sheet2
Entrance of EKH Children Hospital_©Ketsiree Wongwan

Integrated field investigated what would be feasible to do to make hospitals for kids more pleasant and inviting surroundings after realizing that hospitals can be such difficult places for adults to visit that efforts have been made to create more enjoyable and welcoming environments.

The waiting room of each clinic has been converted into a playground with an indoor swimming pool in an effort to make EKH Children’s Hospital a “fun” place for kids. 

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Exterior view of EKH Children Hospital_©Ketsiree Wongwan

Year- 2019
Location- Samut SakhonThailand
Surface- 6000 m²
Typology- Hospital
Architectural Design- Integrated Field
Photography- Ketsiree Wongwan
Manufacturers–  BSG Glass, EDL, Iris Ceramica, K2J, Nrdc, Resysta, SKK
Main Contractor– Adisorn Construction Co.Ltd
Interior Architect– IF (Integrated Field Co.
Interior Contractor–  Open Interior Co.Ltd, Pansini Co.Ltd
Landscape Architect– S:CSB Co.Ltd
Structural Engineer– S:CSB Co.Ltd
Electrical Engineer– S:CSB Co.Ltd

Design Philosophy

“Playing is Healing. Key Concept: ‘Children Dimension’. A hospital is the kind of place most people would rather avoid as much as they can. We have witnessed more medical institutions attempt to create a more pleasant and friendlier environment, some with the architecture and interior decoration that are almost equivalent to shopping malls or high-end hotels. If such a built environment can make the feeling of going to a hospital for us adults more tolerable somehow, what about the experience of the little ones?”

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Slide Installations at EKH Children Hospital_©Ketsiree Wongwan

The discomfort, needle phobia, or even the harshness of the drug cannot be soothed for the children by luxury. Therefore, we search for items that will make them happy during their stay in the hospital. From a kid’s perspective, we learn that every youngster has an innate need for “fun.” All children want to live their life seeking exciting things to do, regardless of their surroundings. Since we don’t have many children left, using the word “fun” as the key to the design becomes extremely difficult. We also have to continually remind ourselves that we would have to create a hospital with a “fun” environment.

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The Dining area of EKH Children Hospital_©Ketsiree Wongwan

Such reasoning results in the creation of a hospital that features a massive slider directly in the centre of the lobby (imagine being a kid dreading going into the hospital, the slider will definitely make you stop crying). Each clinic’s waiting room is fashioned into a playground, which puts part of the responsibility on the parents to persuade the kids to leave the facility. The programme also has an indoor pool with a number of manufactured clouds floating on top of it.

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Interiors of EKH Children Hospital_©Ketsiree Wongwan

Children’s dimensions are constructed utilising a variety of actual physical shapes, colours, and symbols that are manifested from a design language that purposely avoids pure geometric forms in favour of softly curved lines. The aesthetics of the design are reminiscent of how one might draw a curved line without worrying about whether or not it would be able to make a complete circle, and it ultimately gives the young users of the area a sense of freedom. 

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Use of geometric curvy shapes for informal behaviour of space_©Ketsiree Wongwan

In order to create a physical environment that properly accommodates children’s behaviours and preferences, these lines are shaped into the arches created over the doors and seating spaces with the sizes determined to correlate with children’s body proportions.

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Indoor pool for children at EKH Children Hospital_©Ketsiree Wongwan

The children’s use of imagination is encouraged by the pastel colour scheme (as a kid, we all create our own imaginary world when we are experiencing a space for the first time). We are certain that kids will be able to appreciate the hospital spaces in accordance with their own unique imaginations and create their own unique experiences as a result of their interactions with the carefully planned spatial programme.

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The Play areas at EKH Children Hospital_©Ketsiree Wongwan

As a result, the feature offers a welcoming, comfortable, and secure atmosphere for both children and other guests. Various physical shapes, colours, and symbols that are realized from a design language composed of softly curved lines and purposefully avoiding exact geometric forms are used to create the children’s dimension. In order to create a physical environment that properly supports children’s behaviours and preferences, curved lines are created into the arches constructed above the doors and seating spaces, with the sizes estimated to correlate with children’s body proportions.

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Pastel-coloured spacious rooms for children’s stay_©Ketsiree Wongwan
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Constellation shape installations on the ceiling _©Ketsiree Wongwan

The hospital provides four different types of overnight rooms that are decorated in pastel shades of pink, blue, and yellow. Instead of being labelled as standard, special, or suite rooms, these rooms are given more amiable titles like Whale, Turtle, Lion, and Rabbit Constellation. Each room features a glow-in-the-dark constellation designed like the room’s name (for example, the turtle room will have a constellation shaped like a turtle), along with a specially made lamp that emits gentler illumination rather than a sharp glare.

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Playful corridors of EKH Children Hospital_©Ketsiree Wongwan

A well-lit play area has been built close to the pharmacy so that parents can keep an eye on their young children while they wait. Here, indirect lighting is used in the halls to prevent patients from being startled by extreme brightness. For girls’ and boys’ restrooms, respectively, the tilework is light yellow and baby pink, and the sinks and bidets are positioned inside curving niches at a child’s height.

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Interesting seating areas at hospital_©Ketsiree Wongwan
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Enhancement of visual transparency at waiting areas_©Ketsiree Wongwan

Each clinic’s waiting room is fashioned after a toned-down playground, and parents often struggle to get their children to leave. These convey a calmer, friendlier, and more enjoyable ambience, as do the interior design’s predominant circular lighting, muted walls, round-edged furniture, and curved lines.

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Interesting restrooms at hospital_©Ketsiree Wongwan
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Play of natural lighting _©Ketsiree Wongwan

All of the hospital’s halls employ indirect lighting to prevent young children from becoming uncomfortable with too much brightness.

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A Detailed plan of the 1st Floor_©IF
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A Detailed plan of the 2nd Floor_©IF
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A Detailed plan of the 3rd Floor_©IF
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A Detailed plan of the 4th-5th Floor_©IF
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A Detailed plan of the V.I.P A.C _©IF
A Detailed plan of the V.I.P B.D_©IF
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A Detailed plan of the Junior V.I.P A.B _©IF
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A Detailed plan of the standard A.C _©IF
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A Detailed plan of the standard B.D_©IF

References:

  • Stirworld (2020) [ Online] Available at- 

https://www.stirworld.com/see-features-integrated-field-places-a-yellow-slide-inside-ekh-children-s-hospital-thailand

  • Archdily (2020) [Online] Available at- 

https://www.archdaily.com/932317/ekh-children-hospital-s-csb 

  • Healthcaresnapshots (2020) [Online] Avaibale at-

https://healthcaresnapshots.com/projects/6802/ekh-childrens-hospital/ 

Author

Ayushi Samarth is a freshly graduate architect. Reading, understanding and writing upon the analysis made have always been the keen interests of Ayushi. She has always been curious in understanding the impact of social issues on architecture and design. Dealing with the theory of user and context interaction with architecture and narrating the story of architecture always has her attention.

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