Seoul, South Korea

Gresham, Smith and Partners

Category: Category C: Unbuilt

Project: Seoul National University Hospital Medical Mall

Client: Taeyoung

Project Location: Seoul, South Korea

Architect: Gresham, Smith and Partners

Associate Architect: Mooyoung Architects

Photographers: Aerial photos: Google Maps

Anticipated construction cost (not including equipment or soft costs): $90,000,000

Anticipated building area GSF: 608,796

Flexibility, intuitive wayfinding, expandability, and connecting to nature are the motivations behind the concept for the design of Seoul National University Hospital Medical Mall. The facility is arrayed in an arc around the historic hospital building, with phase one occupying available northern real estate and subsequent phases to the west. Interior functions are arranged in layers with public circulation and waiting on the inside of the arc and transaction, with clinic spaces and offices layered to the outside.

The layered approach allows flexibility in assigning space to various clinics as needed. The relationship between flexible clinics, public circulation, and an open visitor waiting area allows patient volumes to ebb and flow with the clinic schedules.

Each level is expandable around the organizational arc in a horizontal manner. This means growth can be accommodated without compromising the functional and wayfinding concepts; as the building grows, it will continue to work as it does on opening day, thereby retaining its flexibility and clarity.

Finally, the inner arc of the public circulation and waiting areas describes the edge of an excavation resulting in a south-facing garden with the historic hospital as a focal point. The resulting focus on nature and architecture diminishes the perception of the building as “underground” and establishes a healthy, vibrant aesthetic.

The hospital has struggled with the intense cross traffic and congestion of a single entrance for in-patients and out-patients. This new design shifts functions that are not required for in-patient care out of the hospital, and creates a separate space and entrance for the clinic patients. Providing this separation not only reduces the congestion at the front entrance of the hospital, but also maintains a connection to the main hospital for staff and patients who require access.

The current hospital campus contains multiple facilities housing different specialties, including Pediatric, Oncology, Emergency and Dental. These separate buildings are not physically connected, thereby requiring patients and staff to exit the buildings, travel outside, and cross streets. Creating this centralized out-patient facility physically connects the patients, staff, and physicians from multiple facilities, and provides retail and food destinations.

The challenge for this project was providing a design that met the local FAR restrictions (which limits adding above-grade space), while keeping patients oriented to their location on the site. The unique underground exterior space helps orient patients and staff to their location on the site. From there, they are directly connected to the clinics, retail space, underground parking garages, and public transportation systems. This provides optimum convenience to sick and distressed patients who are visiting this large urban campus.

This project transforms the current on-site pavement and creates a park-like setting for patients and visitors in the midst of this bustling city of over 10 million people. The design considers the quality of the outdoor space and seeks to suffuse natural elements, light and air, to be used not only by the clinics, but also viewed and experienced by the surrounding facilities.

Pedestrian access, with safe connections between facilities, was essential on this urban campus. The use of pedestrian walkways eliminates the need to drive between facilities and provides the quickest, most convenient access to campus services. These connections also provide access to the widely used public transportation system.

Healthcare Design 2010 November;10(11):199-200