Conceived as three hospitals under one roof, the new Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) is a 300,000m2, 838-bed medical complex that will combine a general hospital and trauma centre with tertiary women’s and pediatric hospitals. It is a joint venture between ICME, Tilke, and SOM.
The new complex is designed for SEHA, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company, and will be the largest hospital in the country. The new facility will rise on the existing 36 hectare SKMC campus. Construction is scheduled to start in 2013, with completion in the second half of 2016.
The primary site challenge was to identify a building location that would work equally well in the short-term when most existing campus buildings will remain, and in the long-term when many of those buildings give way to future medical and mixed-use development.
With zoning guidelines and phasing requirements dictating a modest height building located at the interior of the superblock, the building’s prominence is ensured by a strategy that restrains the height of future, perimeter development and provides gracious entry boulevards to connect the main city streets to the campus centre.
Envisioned as a ‘city within a city’, the design goes against the typical model of a medical centre to create a bustling campus-like environment of distinct character, vibrant public spaces and a sense of community. The client required distinct identities for each of the three hospitals while maintaining an overall unified expression.
The facility’s two-storey base will house shared medical functions while the heart of the medical city, embedded in this base, is a vibrant ‘town centre’ of lobbies, cafes, retail, prayer rooms and education spaces. A shaded rooftop garden activates 2.3 ha of central open space for public use.
Above the stone plinth, inspired by historic Arabic architecture, the ‘bed’ towers convey identity of each hospital. Sun screens vary from the simple rhythm of the General Hospital to playful colours and patterns of the Pediatric Hospital to the intricate mashrabiya-inspired geometries of the Women’s Hospital.
From the landscaped entry drives to the main garden level and the light-filled courtyards that perforate the plinth, the medical city’s gardens will create a calm and healing environment. Within the base, a series of courtyards bring light and nature into these large floor plates, assisting in way-finding.