Text: Devyani Jayakar
Project: Alpha Healing Centre
Location: Jambughoda, Gujarat
Designer: Art & Architecture Associates
WAF Shortlisted Category: Completed Buildings | Health
The site for the Alpha Healing Center for drug and alcohol rehabilitation lay 50 kms outside the city of Vadodara, Gujarat in an untouched reserve with large old trees. An additional 5,50,000 sqft of landscaping was added by Dharam Patel (Principal Architect at Art and Architecture Associates) around the prevalent built-up area of 75000 sqft.
A road parallel to the state highway was created at the entry to create a sense of arrival. Gentle curves were adopted for the footprint of the structures, laid out in the shape of a flower and its petals. The refreshing, rejuvenating associations of a flower have been carried through the design in a subtle way. The footprint arrived at through the curved lines enabled the designers to conserve as many trees as possible on the site.
The facility has a fully equipped administrative and medical centre at the core, recreation, special residences and doctor’s residences in the eastern petals, with residences for patients in two of the southern petals. The restaurant sits in the western petal, along with lawns for hosting events. Organic farms and vegetable orchards lie on the southwestern zone of the site. The central structure is circular in shape, with an open to sky courtyard at its centre.
Since the site is untouched, the designers have attempted to make the complex as self-sufficient as possible, without compromising on comfort levels. Solar panels produce approximately 30KW, supplementing the electricity consumed from the grid. Organic farming enables 50% of the requirement of vegetables to be grown on the site. Waste water is used for irrigation and rainwater is harvested in a catchment area. Several water bodies have been created as part of the landscaping, to add to the visual appeal of the space.
At the core of the design is the thought that nature is a healing partner for drug and alcohol rehabilitation, combined with the role that flowers have played in some medicinal practices in ancient India – to address the spirit, mind and body in tandem. To maximise the therapeutic effects of nature and holistic healing, this design strives to create a connection between the patient and the natural environment – integrating a contemporary building into the untouched countryside.
What makes this project unique?
“There is an integration of many aspects which are important in architecture. The vernacular architecture of courtyards and verandahs has been reinterpreted in a contemporary idiom. The site has been conserved, local materials have been used, light and ventilation has been optimised and there is a perceptible connect with nature. The possibility of horizontal as well as vertical expansion has been provided and there is integration of energy saving, agriculture, recycling of organic waste and water. Recyclable materials have been used to minimise the green footprint, and the check list of good design has been diligently tick marked, creating a unique space.”
Why do you think this project stands out and will excel at WAF?
“The brief demanded a hospital, but what has been delivered is much more. Physical as well as spiritual and psychological influences of architecture have been tapped, to provide a holistic space. With an understanding that health is not only physical but also mental and spiritual, the built environment does everything to promote a sense of well-being. The design subtly supports the therapies carried out within the centre, aiding the process of recovery and rehabilitation. This level of synergy between the built form and the intended use of the design is uncommon in architecture.
Our quest was for an architecture that invites and celebrates the process of recovering from substance abuse. We also wanted to determine, create and keep current optimum relations between people and the environment. Apart from eco-sensitive design, the architecture had to bring about a psychosomatic balance, touch the mind and connect to the spirit, while using nature as a healing partner.”