The Angdong hospital, a facility created for a Chinese charity, is an award-winning project. The hospital’s architecture is used by the designers to foster a fresh perspective on health and the idea of the hospital as a “friendly” location that is open to the community. The ramp, a crucial connection among all the floors of the structure that creates a central courtyard that functions as a public area and an outdoor waiting area on the bottom floor, serves as their starting point. Concrete blocks constructed with specially designed molds were utilized on the inner route, acting as a filter to create gentle shadows in the courtyard, and repurposed brick was used on the exterior.
Having worked in areas “where there is no architecture” for more than a decade, RUF co-founder John Lin thinks that by combining low-tech techniques with modern concepts, we can get more value out of the rural fabric and improve underprivileged communities. RUF’s motto is “Hatred of Excess,” and neither the scope nor the funding for Angdong Hospital allows for any excess. The primary source of income for this distant region is tourism in the Hunan province of southwest China, which is a region heavily populated by tourists to the Zhangjiajie World Heritage Site. The first philanthropic healthcare facility in China, Angdong Hospital was built to assist the peasants of Baoxing County in the province’s northwest and is only reachable by a winding hill route from the town of Baojing.
The hospital’s Hong Kong-based nonprofit organization, the Institute for Integrated Rural Development, says it seeks to “promote a fresh approach” toward remote healthcare. Beginning in 1995, the proposal was created piecemeal and evolved. The organization first invested its funds in the education of youngsters from neighboring towns, then it hired recently graduated physicians to return to the area. Because of its advantageous position, with 12,000 residents from 21 smaller villages within an hour’s drive, the facility’s site in Angdong is distinguished among other towns with similar features. Even basic amenities like waiting areas are now absent in existing establishments. In Angdong, where 80% of the population is employed in agriculture, the program offers essential outpatient therapy with a focus on preventive services for the youth and the treatment of chronic agriculture illnesses for the aged. The majority of illnesses are also psychological and are attributed to loneliness brought on by relatives moving to the city.
The typical configuration of a facility’s program is changed. The design starts with a straightforward plan to offer constant ramp access to all floors. A roomy ramp makes it possible to sit down and enhances circulation. Additionally, a sizable public courtyard is created in the center as a result. The courtyard provides additional steps for seating and also as an outdoor waiting space at ground level. Elements include both custom-designed concrete screen blocks that surround the inside spiral tunnel and repurposed conventional bricks that create the outer façade. These bespoke blocks were cast in a flexible latex mold, although they initially appeared to be the standard variety. The resultant courtyard has a gentle and fluid feel, with varying shadows projected throughout the day.
The need for an accessible ramp to any hospital floor led to the creation of the hospital’s overall shape. The phasing plan suggested using the current hospital while the new one was being constructed, then demolishing it and adding the ramp as the last piece to link all the floors. This ramp forms a public area going to the roof by encircling an inside courtyard. This rooftop and ramp are open to the public and serve as a place for gatherings and a playground for kids. The courtyard offers sitting and doubles as an outdoor waiting space at ground level by folding into the natural slope.
Their approach is to accept modernization while integrating approaches and structural tactics that mark this as a narrative of continuance and not as a schism, rather than retreating to nostalgia for lost skill or a “Chinese” architectural identity. The Angdong Hospital Project uses conceptual and material innovation to confront the organization’s conventional architecture.
Hong Kong manufacturers donated concrete dye to alter the concrete into a warm terracotta color. The exterior envelope was constructed from discarded grey bricks, made available through the recent demolition of a brick factory, arranged in fins placed at a 45-degree angle so that from some viewpoints the building appears as a solid mass, and from others, the interior is revealed. In contrast, the deployment of the screen blocks on the inner, courtyard façade created a softer, variegated surface filtering light and offering different vistas as one traverses the ramp.
The medical clinic in Angdong is best understood in the context of rural adversity, which gives Angdong a new meaning. This new construction type broadens the concept of services beyond basic treatment to accept a broader social program, greeting the locals in, instead of isolating the patients from the outside world, and inviting the mingling of aged with children. Given that China’s fast urbanization has resulted in an abundance of generic architecture made of standard materials, the use of locally obtained materials imparts a sense of belonging, which is essential to its acceptability by the community. RUF has demonstrated that architectural aspiration is not inversely proportional to budget and that it is possible to greatly improve the Chinese countryside. Even though practically any structure would have been an upgrade over the previous facilities, Angdong has exceeded even the client’s expectations and ingenious architectural solutions make up for the absence of healthcare services.
- Rural Urban Framework Angdong Hospital baojing county China: Floornature (no date) Floornature.com. Available at: https://www.floornature.com/rural-urban-framework-angdong-hospital-baojing-county-china-12094/ (Accessed: February 4, 2023).
- Rural Urban Framework · Angdong Hospital (no date) Divisare. Available at: https://divisare.com/projects/307778-rural-urban-framework-angdong-hospital (Accessed: February 4, 2023).
- Young, J. (2021) ‘Rural Urban Framework’s hospital has kindled a new purpose for Angdong’, Architectural Review. Available at: https://www.architectural-review.com/buildings/rural-urban-frameworks-hospital-has-kindled-a-new-purpose-for-angdong (Accessed: February 4, 2023).
- Aguilar, C. (2019) Angdong Hospital Project / Rural Urban Framework, ArchDaily. ArchDaily. Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/553572/angdong-hospital-project-rural-urban-farm (Accessed: February 4, 2023).