HEALING, NATURALLY, IN A GREEN SANCTUARY
WITH A HEALING FOREST GARDEN, THIS COOL CAMPUS FOR PATIENTS IS SET TO BLAZE A TRAIL IN HEALTHCARE DESIGN
Sunny Fung
November 2021
Artist impression of the new hospital campus.
Photo: Woodlands Health
Abstract: Woodlands Health (WH) sustainably integrates acute care, community care, specialist care and long-term care in one place. Its purpose is to raise a sense of independence and dignity in patients through greenery and sensitive passive design features. To achieve this, it integrates with Nparks’ Healing Forest Garden, limits vehicular ground access, harvests solar energy and rainwater and uses automation in housekeeping tasks.

PERSON-CENTRIC CARE

Woodlands Health (WH) promotes person-centric and good quality healthcare for the community by integrating three main components – a strong ecosystem for community care, green spaces for patient healing and smart technology to improve the delivery of care.
As the population ages and life expectancy rises, Singapore’s healthcare system will increasingly need to shift to provide more care for chronic conditions. WH aims to holistically address this by gradually shifting the model of care from operating within the walls of a hospital, to a systems-wide approach, in partnership with community providers such as general practitioners and home care teams. There will be greater emphasis on self-care using technology, and the education of both patients and caregiver to achieve better health in the population, with less reliance on a hospital care setting.

There will be greater emphasis on self-care using technology, and the education of both patients and caregiver to achieve better health in the population, with less reliance on a hospital care setting.

WH uses a team-based model of care in which common goals are communicated within the team to enhance care experience, improve collaboration and manage risk. The holistic assessment enables early discharge planning and the facilitation of moving the patient to the community.

MASTERPLANNING FOR

COMMUNITY CONNECTION

Through stakeholder engagements and industry-benchmarked reviews of user behaviour and current processes, SAA designed a single, seamless campus facility comprising an integrated Acute and Community Hospital (ACH), a Specialist Outpatient Clinic (SOC) building and a Long-Term Care Facility (LTC).
The site is surrounded by Woodlands Dr 17, Woodlands Ave 12 and the Seletar Expressway. To keep the ground level safe and ‘park-like’ for pedestrians within the campus, public vehicular ground access is limited along Woodlands Dr 17 only. Once within the site, vehicular traffic is directed immediately to the basement. This encourages the community to enjoy the campus grounds on foot.
A dedicated ambulance access is located along Woodlands Ave 12, serving the Emergency Department and the ACH podium services above it, where services such as operating theatres and the intensive care unit are located. The acute and community wards were then placed adjacent to each other above the podium for the most direct vertical connectivity.

To keep the ground level safe and ‘park-like’ for pedestrians within the campus, public vehicular ground access is limited

The SOC is located along the north edge of the site, closest to the bus-stops and basement connection to Woodlands South Station on the Thomson-East Coast MRT Line. This provides ease of access to the SOC where foot traffic is the highest. This encourages the use of public transportation and reduce the need for extensive onsite car parking. The Healing Forest Garden, playground and bicycle paths are placed along the south and west edges of the site, near the future park connector. They also double up as a buffer between the buildings and the busy Seletar Expressway.
The LTC is placed next to the healing forest to allow its residents to benefit from this healing landscape. The three blocks (ACH, SOC and LTC) are linked by a shared underground car park, a logistics hub and refuse disposal facilities. The ACH and SOC are also linked by pedestrian bridges.
Artist impression of the new hospital campus, campus planning layout plan Photo: Woodlands Health
Artist impression of the new hospital campus, campus planning layout plan
Photo: Woodlands Health

SEAMLESS CARE

WH aims to reduce reliance on hospital care by encouraging healthy living through its architecture. The healing garden on the first storey and community rooftop gardens are designed for exercise, for users to keep fit while enjoying the greenery.
The Acute and Community Hospital (ACH) podium houses the Emergency Department, with the Diagnostic & Radiology Department, Operating Theatre Department and intensive care units located above. Above the podium, acute and community wards in different wings of the same block share the same lift core. The design allows for seamless transfer of patients within the same building, with built-in flexibility for pandemic readiness and future proofing.
Within the Specialist Outpatient Clinics (SOC) block, clinical and allied health specialties are clustered according to service lines so that patients with co-morbidities will be able to consult specialists, nurses and therapists within a single touchpoint. A bridge linking the SOC building to the ACH podium connects outpatient facilities to the acute departments, giving patients more privacy along the transfer route on trolleys.
The Long-Term Care (LTC) is a dementia-friendly facility with a cluster living environment that promotes the dignity of residents, maximises their independence, and encourages familial visits and interaction. To allow for inter-generational bonding to help improve the well-being of the elderly, a childcare centre has been integrated into the LTC. This arrangement makes the LTC an important part of the wider community and strengthens the ecosystem of community care.
Artist’s impression of the new hospital campus, with long term care (LTC) cluster living arrangements Photo: Woodlands Health
Artist’s impression of the new hospital campus, with long term care (LTC) cluster living arrangements
Photo: Woodlands Health

GREEN SPACES

The Healing Forest Garden is developed based on studies showing that a person’s focus and attention is improved by spending time in nature. In fact, WH will be the first hospital with dedicated parkland integrated into the campus to promote patient healing and improve hospital staff well-being.
The LTC is positioned south of the Healing Forest Garden, where the “dementia garden” hosts meaningful programmes that bring seniors and youth together. Outpatients undergoing rehabilitation will be using the north of the healing forest where they can move around in the greenery to promote healing. Patients and staff can enjoy a serene environment for meditation and leisure walking, and enjoy games on activity lawns, community gardens and play areas.
The healing forest is expected to extend via the future park connector, making the hospital grounds part of the community.

WH will be the first hospital with dedicated parkland integrated into the campus to promote patient healing and improve hospital staff well-being.

Artist impression of the new hospital campus, aerial view Photo: Woodlands Health
Artist impression of the new hospital campus, aerial view
Photo: Woodlands Health

TREADING LIGHTLY ON THE PLANET

Aside from the green landscape features, the passive design strategies of WH make it remarkably sustainable. For example, the North-South orientation of the wards limit heat gain while encouraging wind flow through the naturally ventilated spaces. Solid gable end walls for east- and west-facing facades, green balconies and greenery on the facades further reduce heat gain.
PV panels installed on the roof provide shade for the community garden while powering the building. The open ground level spaces double up as rainwater collection channels for the irrigation of the green spaces.
SMART technology also features prominently in other aspects of WH. A case in point is the centralised logistics hub in the common basement which automates the flow of medicines and “clean” and “dirty” supplies, while centralised patient records allow for seamless access to patient care information as patients move between specialties and care levels.
The use of automation in the backend for food services and housekeeping will help to reduce the need for workers while greatly enhancing service efficiencies.
SAA believes WH will be a new benchmark for delivery of healthcare and transformation of healthcare facilities to become more sustainable and person-centred.
Project
Woodlands Health (WH)
Location
Woodlands, Singapore
Size
7.66 ha
Status
Under Construction
Client
Ministry of Health Holdings (MOHH)
Services
Architecture
Collaboration
TYLIN, Arcadis, SSMA, IO Consultants, Acviron, ICN, MediConsult
Firm / BU
SAA Architects
Project Lead
Michael Leong, Chew Chak Min
Project Team
Faridah Samsuri, James See, Mustakim Bin Ismail, Jacqueline Wong, Carina Tang, Lee Jia Xian, Clarence Foo
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