"Architecture can't force people to connect, it can only plan the crossing points, remove barriers, and make the meeting places useful and attractive." - Denise Scott Brown.
As part of our Revisit Series to one of our completed projects- HEARING AID CENTRE, a small group of us Intern Architects from Murali Architects had the opportunity to set out once again, from the southern end of Chennai towards one of the suburban areas at the heart of the city- Nungambakkam.
Our first stop was at the old building which the Hearing Aid Centre occupied previously, a non-descript rigid confined space with sterile interiors. From here, we went on to see the new Hearing Aid Centre, which was a refreshing contrast from the stereotypical ‘clinic’ feel of its predecessor.
As soon as we walked up to the large glass doors that swung forth on their own, we could see that the new HAC was a complete transformation from the previous one- where dynamism and openness replaced the rigidity, where there was freshness that was truly inspirational.
The Hearing Aid Center at Nungambakkam, Chennai is a 2000 Sq. ft. interior project, which not only serves for people with hearing disabilities, but also as a space where they could spend quality time with their family.
The curved forms are used efficiently with minimal wastage of space, with custom made furniture with cheerful colors that could reduce the anxiety one would otherwise experience in a clinic.
We were pleasantly surprised to find that the project area is just 2000 sq.ft,which is even more surprising since such a large extent of work has been accommodated into such a limited space. It was clear that one of the first priorities in the design conceptualisation was efficient use of this limited space and also, to bring about a comforting environment with these space constraints.
Fluid lines move effortlessly from one surface to another, from the reception desk to the false ceiling, blurring the lines between them. The public and private spaces are zoned very efficiently, with necessary comfort created for the treatment rooms.
The highlight of the design was the Simulation Room, where sounds from the bustling crowds at a Railway Station, the busy din of the marketplace and identifiable sounds from public spaces could be heard and tested.
Individual cabins are thoughtfully provided near this, to enable the families accompanying the patients at the HAC to sit together, discuss and arrive at the most suitable procedure, to enable the doctors at the HAC to provide their care efficiently.
As we visited during working hours, we were able to see and observe firsthand how the space is used by the common people, where everyone felt welcome, and their sense of ownership to the space was visible, by the way they did not hesitate to make themselves feel at home.
The real fluidity of the design of the HAC struck us when we saw it visibly adapt itself to accommodate the needs of not only the frail grandfather, with his walking stick, but when it could also create the ambience that would put at ease the young IT Professional granddaughter who had accompanied him.
Although many clinic and hospital interior projects tend to overlook the sensitive needs of the users, this lovely space empathises deeply with them.
While this aspect of empathetic design might seem like a small detail to the rest of the world, for those with hearing difficulties and the aging fighters with fading hearing, this space truly aims to provide for more than just a functional aspect, but also strives to create hope and purpose in their lives.
It retains its heart and soul right at the solution it hopes to provide- where people in their golden years can be given a new breath of hope, a new ray of light and an end to the lonely silence…and a rebirth of joyous melody in their lives.
And as the Master Architect once said,
“To Hear a Sound is to see a SPACE” – Louis Kahn.
To our clients, who allowed us great freedom of expression for a designer.
MURALI ARCHITECTS CREATIVE TEAM - HEARING AID CENTRE
Murali Murugan Seethapathi Pb Ar Sofiya Johnson Sadham Hussain Dilshath Aadhil Karthik
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