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‘Easy accessibility for patients is priority’: AIIMS hospitals architect on how medical facilities are designed 

“The building has to be designed in a way that the patient, given their health condition, has to move as little as possible to avail services,” says the architect

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Apeejay alumnus Saurabh Maurya has been working as an architect for almost six-seven years now. Healthcare projects are his forte and he has been involved in the development of quite a few hospitals in the country. He now works as a Project Architect at Arcop Associates. The alumnus of Apeejay Institute of Technology-School of Architecture and Planning (AIT-SAP) has mostly worked on government projects. Some of his noteworthy projects comprise AIIMS Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh including its hostels, and AIIMS Deoghar, which is ongoing. He has also been working on the redevelopment of AIIMS Delhi. Saurabh tells us more about his work in an interview:

Did you consciously choose to work on healthcare projects?

It was more about the opportunities I got than my personal choice. Hospitals and hotels are two major sectors that require the maximum architectural services. It was during my training period that I was exposed to healthcare projects, and I learned on the job. One of my first projects after completing my college degree was that of building a medical college in Barmer. I was part of the project right from the beginning. After working on the project for nearly two years, I gained good enough experience to continue working in the sector.

Also Read: Meet the Delhi architect who is building ‘green’ offices and busting sustainability myths

What kind of challenges do you have to cope with as an architect while designing a hospital?

The first thing to keep in mind is that we are designing it for patients and not the general public. Our priority, therefore, is to help patients comfortably enter the premises, access medical facilities easily, and then leave the hospital without any hassle. So, the building has to be designed in a way that the patient, given their health condition, has to move as little as possible to avail services. The design should ensure that the premises can be navigated smoothly on a wheelchair or a stretcher.

Apart from plumbing and electrical fittings, you also need to make provisions for other medical services in a hospital, from medical gas pipelines to oxygen plants, in-house laundry, nurse call systems, and more. Putting all of this together can get challenging sometimes.

Patients often have to move from one floor to another to avail different medical services. How do you decide the structure of the building?

Right at the beginning, a medical committee is formed that regularly reviews our designs. The medical committee guides us on how to distribute the facilities in the hospital to ensure minimal movement not only for the patient but also for the internal staff. Along with that, various medical experts from across the country also come in to share their insights.

You are also involved in the redevelopment of AIIMS Delhi. Tell us more.

AIIMS Delhi is one of the centres where you have patients coming from all strata of society. So, the structure has to cater to all of them. And the facilities also need to be designed accordingly. The redevelopment of AIIMS Delhi is happening phase-wise—in the first phase, we are constructing four high-rise clinical buildings. We are also working on redeveloping residential and research buildings.

How did Apeejay nurture your passion for architecture?

I had heard a lot about Apeejay. So, once I decided to pursue architecture, I was hopeful of grabbing a seat at AIT-SAP. Overall, I had a very good experience at Apeejay and was able to learn a lot—I fondly recall spending my college days at the institute’s old building before being shifted to the new one. In the latter, we were exposed to a new environment that motivated us to further identify our potential and work toward achieving our goals. Apart from enriching in-house lectures, we also had guest speakers who came to share their experiences and insights—they gave us a glimpse of how the industry works.

Disha Roy Choudhury is a Senior Correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. She has worked as a journalist at different media organisations. She is also passionate about music and has participated in reality shows.

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