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Jiahui Hospital By NBBJ: Shanghai’s Hospital In A Garden

China’s first-ever hospital to earn LEED Healthcare Gold Certification leads the way for innovative, human-focused healing environments.

Jiahui Hospital By NBBJ: Shanghai’s Hospital In A Garden

Aside from being Shanghai’s largest-ever medical construction, Jiahui Hospital designed by NBBJ is the first foreign-funded tertiary general hospital in the city built to international standards. It’s also the first hospital in China to earn LEED Healthcare Gold Certification from the US Green Building Council. And at the core of its design is a strong focus on humanised experience – for patients as well as staff.

Jiahui Hospital: Healing Within A Garden

Building on the increasingly accepted wisdom that access to nature reduces hospital stays and decreases stress levels, NBBJ designed a ‘hospital within a garden’. Jiahui (located in the downtown Xuhui District) has a green heart – a landscaped outdoor space visible and accessible from the majority of the eight-acre campus, which incorporates a 15-storey inpatient tower (246 beds), outpatient clinics, interventional suites and an emergency department.

Entry to Jiahui Hospital is via a walkway flanked by landscaping. The park environment, featuring trees, shrubs, grasses, water features, and pathways to enjoy it all, doubles up as a wayfinding device by assisting visitors with orientation when they are within the facility.


The treatment of the architecture builds of the softness of the garden experience with natural terracotta cladding and round, sculpted corners. The use of stone and wood in the interior, brought to life by plenty of natural light, as well as the curvature of interior elements, were prompted by a quest for a comforting environment. Plenty of natural light and views of the central garden help in this regard, as do views of smaller terrace gardens on the upper floors of the inpatient tower.

Furthermore, the aural dimension was also considered; Jiahui Hospital has been designed to function more quietly than typical hospitals – with the quieter environment expected to speed up patient recovery.

“Our intuitive design for this facility was fully informed by scientific data, research on biophilia, and the users themselves: doctors, nurses and administrators,” says Rudy Widjaja, Healthcare Principal at NBBJ’s Shanghai office. “We adapted best practices from our work on the award-winning Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston – which also incorporated natural elements – for the design of Jiahui Hospital. In doing so, we’ve created a place where patients and their families can heal and thrive.”


Increased Flexibility For Medical Staff

NBBJ and Jiahui Hospital also collaborated with Massachusetts General Hospital (the original teaching hospital of Harvard’s medical school) to obtain feedback on the proposed design from leading healthcare providers. That feedback informed an environment that allows medical staff to connect with patients in more flexible ways. In patient rooms, for example, clinicians can work either inside or directly outside the room – allowing patients more privacy and caregivers more proximity when necessary.

Other innovations include the design of ‘same-handed’ (rather than mirrored) room orientations, which are thought to reduce medical errors; the ability to easily and cheaply convert standard rooms to ICU units, and back again; and the use of a steel structure (the first in the region for a healthcare building), which allows for structural changes with minimal disruption and lower cost.



Sustainability Principles That Work For People Too

Water and energy consumption are minimised at Jiahui Hospital, as are waste and greenhouse gas emissions. Low-volatile green building materials were specified and an advanced air-conditioning system was installed. The building’s orientation and terracotta facade help to absorb solar energy to support heating. A central energy centre and (as described by NBBJ) a green mechanism for material handling assist with good energy performance.

“The design of Jiahui Hospital establishes a new benchmark for healthcare design in China and beyond,” says NBBJ’s International Healthcare Partner Joan Saba. “From the ground up, the hospital elevates the quality of care Chinese patients and their families receive. It also creates a clinical workplace for hospital staff that allows them to focus, innovate and recharge. Perhaps most importantly, the hospital allows patients – who often travel abroad to receive treatment – to receive the best possible care, right in Shanghai.”


Read more about NBBJ’s Jiahui Hospital and new directions in healthcare architecture in China in Cubes issue 93 – on sale now!
Photography by Terrence Zhang (courtesy of NBBJ).

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