From using solar energy to reusing organic waste, the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital is big on being eco-friendly
There is a little bit of Shangri-La Hotel in the new Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) in Yishun.
The luxury hotel near Orchard Road boasts lush gardens with ponds, a waterfall and plenty of plants in some of the rooms’ balconies. The hospital has similar green features.
“The gardens at the hotel are so lovely, I copied them for the hospital,” says Mr Liak Teng Lit, chief executive of Alexandra Health group, which runs KTPH.
A 550 sq m garden that was inspired by the hotel’s can be found in Basement One of the hospital where the operational support services are. Butterflies flit around it and a pair of birds has begun building a nest among the greens, too.
With a garden on this level, “patients and visitors don’t feel as if they are in the basement”, says Mr Jerry Ong, 34, a senior architect at CPG Consultants, the architecture firm for the hospital.
There are also plants on the wards’ balconies, “so patients have greenery to look at from their beds”, adds Mr Liak, 57.
The rooftops of its three blocks have not been forgotten. Trees are being planted there so that no one has to look at bare concrete. The trees will provide shade on these plots, which welcome patients and their families for strolls.
A group of volunteers comprising residents living in the area manages a 720 sq m vegetable and fruit garden that is already flourishing on one rooftop.
The plot reuses organic waste from the hospital’s kitchen and food outlets to fertilise the crops, such as ladies’ fingers, eggplants and sweet potatoes, which supplement the industrially grown food that is served in the hospital.
Mr Liak firmly believes that the greenery and water features create an environment of restfulness and calm that is good for patients.
The $450-million hospital opened its acute care and emergency centre and some inpatient wards earlier this week. Presently, 237 of its 550 beds are in operation.
A hospital spokesman says the rest of the beds will open in stages. The hospital will officially open later this year.
In March, 11 of its specialist outpatient clinics, including those for dental surgery and ear, nose and throat treatments, started receiving patients.
Singapore’s newest hospital is named after the late banking tycoon in honour of the Khoo Foundation’s $125-million donation.
Local firm CPG Consultants’ design was chosen from a competition and construction began in 2006.
Mr Ong says he drew inspiration for the hospital design from the lush gardens in the existing Alexandra Hospital as well as from the Shangri-La Hotel.
There was one problem: “How do I replicate the charm of a 10ha garden hospital into a 3.5ha site?” he says. The solution: locate the gardens on rooftops.
As the hospital site is next to the Yishun pond, Mr Ong designed some of the wards and the clinics to face it.
He also orientated the hospital’s three blocks to allow breeze from the pond to sweep through the buildings.
The result: a well-ventilated structure that does away with the need for airconditioning in the public areas, hence saving energy costs.
The hospital is not only filled with greens but it is also eco-friendly.
Solar panels on its roofs capture the sun’s energy to heat up water for the hospital’s use while louvres on the facade keep out direct sunlight and channel the breeze inside.
Such green features mean that KTPH will use only 40 per cent of the power used by similar-sized hospitals.
Last year, it won a Platinum Green Mark for Building Award, which is given out by the Building and Construction Authority to developers of buildings that are environment-friendly.
Patients and visitors should also be able to find their way easily around the hospital. There are three blocks, each designated for distinctive uses.
The six-storey block nearest the main road houses specialist clinics. To its left is an eight-storey block where the private wards are. These wards have either single or four beds in them.
The third block is a 10-storey building that houses the subsidised wards, which have five or 10 beds in them. Hospital rates start range from $30 to $290 a night.
The buildings are purposely kept low, so that “they do not stick out like a sore thumb in the neighbourhood”, says Mr Liak. This was one of the design criteria that he set.
Mr Ong says that “it is important to make it easy for patients to navigate around the hospital”.
From the dropoff point, it is a 10m walk to the emergency department, 20m to the specialist outpatient clinics and 80m to the subsidised ward tower.
As hospitals are seldom places that people like going to, the architect said he had to make sure that a visit to such a place would be a comfortable one.
Apart from the lush gardens and waterfall, “the hospital is designed with many large, naturally ventilated open spaces to make it a more inviting environment”, he says. “The interior design uses a palette of warm colours to create a cosy ambience.”
Patients and their families have given the hospital their thumbs-up.
Says housewife May Lee, 40, who took her mother to the hospital for her monthly medical check-up: “This hospital doesn’t have that typical hospital feel.”