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A Healthcare Destination

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Built in the heart of ‘God’s Own Country’, Kochi, Aster Medcity, is an integrated medical township. Spearheaded by doctor-turned entrepreneur, Dr. Azad Moopen- Chairman & MD, Aster DM Healthcare, this green-field venture is at par with international standards in the healthcare design. Architect Arun Nalapat briefs on the architecture of this one of its kind Medical Project.

Today, hospitals are designed with a keen knowledge of efficient space utilization without risking the functional requirement, which is required along with good understanding of various services. Exposure to nature for the patients, especially direct sunlight can promote faster healing and enhances the recovery period of the patient and most hospitals are stressing on this aspect. Strategically located positive distractions like artwork, use of appropriate materials, interior colours and plants go a long way in reduction of stress levels of not only the patients but also the attendants, hospital staff and doctors as well. A patient gets personal attention from the staff only a few times in a day and are left alone most of the time. This is where the right environment can play a contributory factor to their sense of well-being and actual recovery.

Keeping such factors in mind Aster Medcity is spread over 40 acres amidst landscaped green environs to consciously integrate nature with healing. The architectural design of the township too is a unique blend of contemporary, international and innovative appeal combined with an inviting, warm and hospitable environment. The aim of the design is not only to support the medical requirements of the state and the country, but also to provide avenue for medical tourism to the country.


The first phase of hospital with 575 beds spread over six floors in three towers faces the serene waters of the Periyar River. The Hospital has a full-fledged Emergency Department with an eleven-bed observation unit and five beds Emergency ICU. The centres of excellence (COE) along with the core OPD supported with dedicated diagnostics for each specialities array the mammoth entry level podium floor of over 1lakh square feet with 85 consultation rooms, twelve bed dialysis centre, ten bed infusion therapy, four endoscopy suites, apart from other services including, ERCP, Lithotripsy, etc.

The first floor has 21 Operation theatres, 19-bed general day surgery unit, two 7-bed speciality DSU, 12 bed CTVSICU, 22 CCUs, 3 CATH labs & 1 Hybrid CATH lab. Thus, at this level, all high sterility function and the critical care facilities are closely knit, helping to integrate and share the expertise of all the specialities. The second level in the towers includes the Iodine therapy facility and other inpatient areas. Third level is a dedicated sterile segment with 85 ICU beds and all support care facilities. The upper floors till sixth floor are dedicated to inpatient facilities. The hospital has 10 VIP rooms, 20 deluxe rooms and the presidential suite of 2500sft area.

“Of the many negatives about the general atmosphere in hospitals, none is more damaging than the feeling of helplessness that one tends to get. This comes from having to ‘trust’ the hospital and its services. Patients are not in a position to technically evaluate the competence of a hospital, its staff and doctors. So they look for visual clues from the spaces that they are forced to inhabit and try and draw conclusions / inferences. Our design attempts to provide such clues, which allow positive conclusions.”

– Architect Arun Nalapat


In the depths of the hospital where no natural light was possible, a tunnel is created which has a long artificial skylight, which tries to mimic natural light. The interiors with light wood and pastel accents attempt to create a sense of balance and calm, helping to create a non-threatening, comfortable atmosphere.

The palette of colours drawn from the skies and sandy beaches of Kerala, and the essential simplicity of the Kerala culture reinforce the clean contemporary lines of the spaces. The main lobby with its flowing curves and simple shapes has a sense of repose; the boat like elements in the ceiling harken back to the fact that the hospital is located in the backwaters of Kochi.

The treatment of the subsidiary lobbies is again unpretentious and straightforward, allowing the scale and the location to have an impact.

The materials used reflect competence rather than opulence and warmth without being intimidating. Rather than a forced palette of pastel colours, most spaces are variations of a single colour -the colour of sunlight in its various hues ranging from a cool white at dawn to a warm yellow at sunset. The palette is punctuated by robust teak shade for certain elements – unifying and connecting the various spaces. Efficient planning of spaces with crisp soft signage guiding the people movement has been carefully planned. Natural light maximised with careful detailing at each and every location provides a clean and neat look.

CEO of Aster MedCity,

Dr. Harish Pillai briefs Buildotech on the homegrown integrated medical city coming up in Kochi, Kerala.

The design & development strategy for the proposed medical city development

The brief for the prospective architects was to build India’s first iconic healthcare destination that harmonizes the orchestration of ‘nature and nurture’ of the care paradigm. We were looking at the pedigree of the architects and designers in healthcare design space and the portfolio in executing international projects. Thus, each of the consultants with whom we have collaborated for the project are highly reputed in their filed and extremely passionate about their work.

American design firm HKS that has conceptualized and designed various hospitals across the world is the primary architectural firm of Aster Medcity. Being new entrants to India in this segment, the company was keen to display its design strengths and at the same time, we wanted architects with an International outlook. For Interiors, we have hired Arun Nalapat Architects- ANA that has executed several flagship projects for us in both GCC and India.

The architectural design for the development

The architectural design of Aster Medcity has a unique blend of contemporary, international and innovative appeal combined with an inviting, warm and hospitable environment. In terms of international influences, the patient centric care, decentralization of services and space planning is incorporated. To add an Indian touch, the soothing comforting environment, the non-threatening location and the healing aura of landscape & the interiors are judiciously planned. The hospital is a green and energy efficient building with LEED Gold Certification standards and is designed to be an extension of the outdoor environment.

In the initial stage, the topography was a major challenge. Since our site in Kochi is near the Periyar River and is quite close to the water table, we had to undertake proper piling of the foundation to ensure structural stability. Another major challenge was to ensure full compliance with the stringent environment guidelines

The advanced systems to monitor smooth operation of green systems & health equipment

Aster Medcity is an ‘intelligent’ building with a centrally located Building Management System (BMS) that controls and monitors the building’s HVAC systems. The BMS installed works on a real time basis keeping a close watch to efficiency and costs and managing energy demand. In addition to controlling the building’s internal environment, BMS systems are linked to access control and other security systems such as closed-circuit television (CCTV) and motion detectors, fire alarm systems and elevators.

We have also used a radiology information system (RIS) i.e. computerized database used by radiology departments to store and distribute patient radiological data and imagery. The system generally consists of patient tracking and scheduling, result reporting and image tracking capabilities. RIS compliments HIS (Hospital Information Systems) and is critical for efficient workflow. The E-ICU module being extensively used at Aster Medcity will integrate all the critical care equipment and show real time patient data to ensure proper care.

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