With global focus on modern architecture, investors in Nigeria’s health sector are embracing innovative designs to ensure competitiveness, accessibility and accelerate the healing process.
Globally, architectural designs for healthcare infrastructure are big issues in boosting patronage, hastening healing process as well as improving the general well being of the society. Amid business downturns, many developers in Nigeria are now embracing innovations in healthcare architecture to cater for clients and swell patronage as seen in other parts of the world.
Before now, the nation’s health care infrastructures are not just obsolete, the designs are also devoid of public expectations, as many do not meet the needs of society especially citizens with disabilities.
This development contravenes the national building codes, which envisaged that public buildings like hospitals should be designed specifically to allow for accessibility and good ventilation.
According to experts, 24 to 40 per cent of disasters associated with buildings could be avoided, if the relevant provisions of building code are strictly followed in the planning, design, construction, operation/management and maintenance of buildings. The design is conditioned, in part, by legal requirements itemized in building regulations that seek to provide minimum requirements to safeguard life, health, and public welfare, the protection of properties by regulating and controlling the entire building production process.
Experts also said non-adherence to standards and lack of innovation have aided medical tourism and sapped the country of the needed foreign exchange. For instance, a recent study of wheelchair accessibility of public buildings in Ibadan, Nigeria by Talhatu Kolapo Hamzat of the University of Ibadan, revealed low level of wheelchair accessibility of public buildings in Nigeria, a factor that could limit the integration of wheelchair users into community.
The doorway width, height of thresholds and steps, width of routes and grade of ramps were measured and computed in the study while accessibility was determined using an abridged form of the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). However, the trend has changed as it is now becoming a norm that in carrying out healthcare renovations, expansion, or new buildings accessibility is a given.
The model considers care and safety to prevent healthcare-associated infections and improve outcomes and patient satisfaction. Hospitals and healthcare infrastructure with interesting and innovative architectural designs are now emerging in Nigeria with new constructions. Such new developments could be seen in the seven-storey hospital building under construction in Ikeja GRA, Lagos.
There was also the multi-billion Admiralty Evercare Hospital project with about 150-bed space capacity, which is being developed in the heart of Lagos by Private Equity Investor. Formerly known as the Dr. Charles Hammond Clinic, the Admiralty Evercare Hospital is a private healthcare development backed by international private equity capital and situated at Admiralty Way in Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.
The multi-specialist health facility is designed with a gross floor area of about 11,550sqm. It is a world-class hospital, which will render total health services, especially in major medical fields. Planned over 10 years ago, there was no construction activity until Indian based contractors, Sharpoorji Pallonji; with vast experience in the development of quality healthcare facilities were appointed to complete the project.
The facility designed by CARE Architects and Delano Architects has Profica and Bovell Ross as project managers and represents one of the latest additions to the growing numbers of innovative health care architectural masterpiece in Lagos. As captured by the 2015 President of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, Samuel Óghale Oboh, the trend now is for architects to design hospitals to facilitate healing process in the society.
According to him, designs have gone away from mainly economic reasons for solving the problems of community, which has economic implications. Oboh, the first African-Canadian to be elected as President of the Alberta Chapter of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, said often architects design spaces with assumption that people will come, rather than having a proper understanding of the people, culture and space before building for them.
Beyond that, the 2nd Vice president, Nigeria Institute of Architects, Enyi Ben Eboh said healthcare facilities must be designed to allow for accessibility for all including the visually and physically challenged. He said for any design to pass through approval process, it should accommodate ramps and elevators and that conceited efforts must be made by all stakeholders in the built environment to ensure that hospital designs meet the need of the society.
According to him, it is expedient for developers to follow new trends in designs both in construction and redevelopment of health care buildings even where there are no such specifications. Also the immediate past the General Secretary of the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Mrs. Abimbola Ajayi stressed the need for investors to abide by the building code, which mandates all public buildings to be accessible to all.
She, however, blamed lack of accessibility of many hospitals in Nigeria on lack of enforcement by the agencies of government who are saddled with the responsibility. The building control code or law, she said, has always been with us but it is the failure to decisively enforce and comply with it that has been responsible for varied building failure in the country.
Mrs. Ajayi stressed that beyond accessibility; certain designs and colours have been proven to aid in healing process. She expressed happiness with the new development, saying that it shows that developers are now listening to architects.
She stressed that most of the problems in the past emanated from clients, who never allow architect to express their ingenuity and innovations. For the Project Director, Arctic Infrastructure, Lookman Oshodi, there is need for investment in health infrastructure to improve the well-being of the people.