Flexibility and adaptability in Hospital designs (Creating universal spaces)

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Over the years, there has been increasing demand on hospital facilities and this has called for a lot of expansion and change of use of space for most hospital buildings. Some of these changes and expansions have been found to be very expensive. This thesis focuses on the overall adaptability of the hospital building by looking at properties that describe the physical and technical infrastructure, areas reserved, expansion possibilities and extra capacity of construction (load capacity, floor height) and technical supply. Here, we use the concept of adaptability to mean the building’s capacity to handle changes; its flexibility and elasticity. A series of case studies and review of other literature was carried out to find out in line with this study. It has been observed that hospitals deal with changes more than any other category of buildings and this has necessitated a lot of renovations and additions to existing structures. It is difficult to add another structure to an existing structure in most hospitals today whiles renovations and change of use have been seen to be very expensive. The essence of this thesis is to give the kind of actions which need to be taken in order to give birth to high physical adaptability and flexibility of the building structure, creating universal spaces which can easily adapt to technological, operational and diagnostic changes. The author found out that due to this difficulty in construction coupled with the high cost of construction, several financiers have in times past and still now proposed the construction of an entirely new facility instead of renovating an old one. It is sad to say that an entirely new one is built only to realise after ten years or more that, it also needs a lot of changes due to technological, operational and diagnostic changes. The author also observed that the issue of adaptability and expansion is usually not high on the agenda during the design stages. In order to arrest this problem, the author recommends that flexibility, adaptability and expansion should be given very high consideration during hospital designs.
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 May.