SmithGroup’s design for the massive Jahra Medical City demonstrates the importance of efficient design that can serve a booming and underserved population.
Al Jahra, Kuwait
The suburbs of Kuwait City continue to expand and the government of Kuwait has made it a priority to upgrade the healthcare infrastructure in these localities. Jahra Medical City, approximately 20 miles west of Kuwait City, is among the most ambitious healthcare facilities ever built in the country.
The Amiri Diwan and the State of Kuwait collaborated with SmithGroup and PACE Architecture Engineering + Planning to develop the planning and design for this complex project. Jahra Medical City comprises eight separate buildings, totaling 700,000 sqm (2.53 million sf). The largest of these is the main hospital structure, which is designed as twin, V-shaped wings stretching 15 stories in height. The entire hospital accommodates 1,234 beds, a women’s center, diagnostic imaging, a surgical suite with 32 ORs, emergency services, education center, daycare, and outpatient services.
The formerly agricultural site was provided by the Amiri Diwan. A theme of wellness and the site’s farming past helped to drive the project concept. Biophilia is embedded holistically into the design: the curvilinear shape of the main building and its organizing central atrium were conceived as, respectively, leaves and a stem. Branch inspired pedestrian bridges connect the D&T plinth and the towers, traversing a 5-story atrium that is filled with daylight, the result of a unique ETFE skylight system that is highly transparent and allows most of the ceiling in the area to feel like open sky. Leaf inspired graphics are etched into glazed walls in the lobby and secondary waiting areas. Lush desert vegetation pays tribute both to the site’s past and the dynamic nature of its present. The building is sited so that inpatient units can take advantage of gulf views.
Color and alpha numeric designations, paired with images of nature, assist with patient and visitor wayfinding through the massive space. Vertical circulation is wrapped in glazing and accented with hardwood provides visual landmarks to further assist with wayfinding.
Separate from the main building is an adjacent plinth containing outpatient clinics, emergency rooms, and diagnostic and treatment, surgery and administration. Men’s and women’s facilities are separated as required by Islamic law. Major planning considerations included safety and infection control; for example, the complex’s ten elevator cores have separate soiled linen, clean linen and public elevators.
Jahra Medical City represents a giant step in Kuwait’s long-term plan to modernize its medical facilities and provide the best healthcare to previously underserved areas.