Paediatric centre – A new design approach.

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Architecture is a practice that provides technical and spatial responses to human needs, functions and activities in open and enclosed physical spaces. These needs, functions and activities manifest in a variety of forms according to ages, gender, income and social status among others. They are also expressed in respect of the colours, textures, materials, scale and so on to suite individuals or distinct groups of people. Although technical and spatial responses emerge after the expression of peculiar needs, the corollary also holds true whereby individuals or group of people react in peculiar ways to establish spatial forms. Children are one group of people who react to spaces with all their five senses; touch, smell, feel, taste and hear. They sense their physical space in a very immediate and detailed way and their response to spaces can be far more direct and energetic than adults 1. Their state of well-being, free from diseases is very important to their parents and the nation as a whole. Part of the process of maintaining well being is occasional or extended visits to hospitals. However the experience of visiting hospitals can be dainty even for adults, partly because of the inflexible space that physically challenge visitors. For children, visiting hospitals can be particularly tasking emotionally, as they are stressed by ill-health, painful medical procedures and unfriendly demeanour of care givers. Children stress from hospital visits can be further compounded by issues of layout, colours, textures, materials, scale and so on. This is because, many health facilities (spaces) in Ghana, have been designed with little acknowledgement of the differing needs of small children, older children, adolescents, parents and care-givers. Thus, these needs of children in such facilities need to be critically considered. Again, there has also been little research in Ghana that has explored what these needs of the children are and what they think about such spaces and how as patients they experience them. The recent statistics in Ghana shows that Child Mortality rate has declined as compared to the previous years, but the Ministry of Health is of the view that the rate of decline has been slow especially considering the regional disparities in the country and thus as one of their interventions, proposes more paediatric centres to be put up in all the ten regions of the country. Given the level of investment required to achieve this goal of increased paediatric centres across the country, it is important for the lessons to be learned with children’s experiences of hospitals to be highlighted in order to make such investors sustainable and relevant. For such designs to be sustainable and relevant for the children, Architects and Designers should be able to create spaces within the facility that would be very personal and user-friendly in a welcoming and comfortable environment.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Architecture, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture on November, 2010.