an old folk’s home

2011
nominated for RIBA President’s Medals Student Awards

program: geriatric treatment center for medical tourists
location: Neil Road, Chinatown, Singapore

The brief for a Geriatric Treatment Center in Singapore calls for both a robust programmatic strategy and a sensitive urban approach. In response, the architecture is not only thought of as a place for healing, but also as an urban ‘healer’.

With the primary demographic of Singapore’s Chinatown being older folk, the intervening Geriatric Treatment Center will invariably spark an interface between the old-aged tourists and the elderly residents of Chinatown. Through the creation of new public space and zones of shared use, the aim is to create Place where both the local residents and tourists may dwell; a home for the old folks.

The inevitable onset of old age engenders chronic ailments which require prolonged and assisted care. The Geriatric Treatment Center is therefore thought of as a place for pairs – a patient and a caregiver, who room and learn together in preparation for eventual medical autonomy at home.

Through the use of concrete walls, the elevation acts as a mediator between the busy main road and the Geriatric Treatment Center’s restful program. Ostensibly hermetic, careful punctures create framed views and ensure fluid movement of both pedestrians and vehicles. These incisions are regulated by the shophouse grid and allow the facade to be read as multiple elements, sympathetic to the street’s rhythm and scale.

The building reacts to the materiality of the podium-tower block to its rear while mitigating and healing the severe scale disruption of the latter. Courtyards encourage physical as well as visual interaction between patients, minimizing any sense of isolation, while oculi allow tourists to relate to the greater community of Chinatown.