It’s been a couple years since architecture firm OMA and Buro Happold engineers partnered to complete research on what came to be known as “the hospital of the future.” The project was commissioned by Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) to inform the new Al Daayan Health District in Doha, Qatar.
In October 2021, draft plans for the hospital were revealed. The 1,400-bed facility will sit on a 1.3 million-square-meter site. It’s defined by a sprawling two-story structure based on a grid of modular units intended to be prefabricated on-site and easily reconfigured and expanded with minimal disruption to operations. Within the grid’s interstitial space are numerous courtyards, integrating nature throughout. Façade design is to be created via 3-D printing to achieve endless possibilities for ornamentation.
Now, the project is finally taking shape—in a new video animation showcasing the prototype design. And it’s garnering lots of industry buzz. It showcases the above as well as advanced building automation and sustainability solutions.
Adding some additional context is a presentation given in March by OMA partner Reinier de Graaf at the 9th Symposium Health Care of the Future event in Berlin (you can find a recording on YouTube). Both the video and de Graaf’s presentation touch on what was discovered in that original research and how it inspired where the project stands today.
For starters, OMA, a Netherlands-based firm new to healthcare design, found that as medical advancements escalate rapidly, buildings have been unable to adapt at the same rate. This has resulted in a near-constant state of conversion until the point of obsolescence is reached. And that obsolescence is occurring far sooner than it once did—the more recently hospitals are built, the sooner they have to be demolished, de Graaf said in the Berlin presentation. “This is mesmerizing for an architect, of course. How do you make sense of it?” he said. “In the future, the lifespan of the hospital will be negative.”
Within that context, you quickly see how the Al Daayan Health District design has become a touted answer to the inherent problems this industry faces—and specifically, that HMC has faced as an organization and asked the design team to solve.
Sure, you might find flaws in the solution if you decide to dig. But the premise for this hospital of the future is certainly based on facts we all need to face. And they aren’t the only ones considering them—just look at some of the concepts we’ve seen proposed as part of our own Breaking Through competition over the years.
There are certainly threads that can be followed. And I have a feeling we’ll see these themes repeated when our 2022 finalists are announced later this year. Stay tuned.