Historical Significance and Site Context
Somdej Chao Phraya Institute of Psychiatry is the first psychiatric hospital in Thailand established since 1889. The hospital is well known for its specialised psychopathology center offering effective care to allsevere levels of mental health symptoms. One of the hospital’s essential mission is to enhance people’s positive perception towards psychiatric hospitals, where local superstitions of mental disorders being linked to the spiritual realm mixed with social stigma led to an ignorance that impeded hospitalization. With over 130 years in service, the hospital is renowned for its prestigious medication and the constantly enhanced facilities that accommodate increasing numbers of mental health patientsin the new built urban environment.
Having access from downtown Bangkok via canals and surrounded with nature of abundant farmland were meticulously considered when choosing the hospital’s location in Klongsan District.
Founded in 1889, Somdej Chao Phraya Institute of Psychiatry is the first psychiatric
hospital in Thailand, the site surrounded with farmland and canal
Follow the trend of urbanization,the hospital has been developed to its full site’s capacity in 2004 with most of the areas were occupied by buildings’ footprint and paving hardscape.
New masterplan (130 years celebration)
Green healing concept proposes new masterplan to reduce footprint, add more green and promote new holistic care which is developed from study and research Framework.
2139 (250 years celebration)
Spreading of green space, more than 100 years growth from today,will help promote mental health prevention with ultimate goal of reducing the number of future mental health problems.
The key Concept
The hospital values the essence of green spaces as both a healing medium for patients and a recreational space for the public. From this century to the next, the hospital’s innovative vision is to upgrade hospital’s image through improving service facilities that cherish green spaces on both a micro and macro scale while preserving historical value of the site. This Green Healing concept is not only meant to help healthe patients on site but also heal the environment and the city planning ordeal.
Green Healing for the site
To achieve this grand vision, landscape design team collaborated with allied-professional to maximize green spaces by removing and reducing buildings footprint, re-arranging and reducing vehicle circulations, and re-connecting and reprogramming green spaces.
To support the micro scale Green Healing concept, the team performed preliminary research on the background and needs of users, including patients, staffs and local people through site observation, interview and questionnaires. Gathering the information to create the landscape design framework and green space zoning. The data was used to define 5 key zones ; IPD, OPD,Convalescent Care, Staff retreat and Public recreation to facilitate the needs of users, therapeutic functions and respect to site heritage. Subsequently, intensive research on Evidence Based Design(EBD) theory was conducted to seek for the most suitable Nature-based therapeutic methods that will help mitigate mental disorders.The hospital’s holistic care approach was strengthened by the integration of EBD theories and Milieu Therapy which be implemented in the tangible design of each zone.
1. IPD (Inpatient Department)
IPD offers appropriate care and attention to severe mental disorder patients who are admitted for special medical condition. With the safety protocol, IPD green space is isolated and surrounded by fence.The patients are allowed to use their detained open spaces during the day under staffs’ surveillance. To create effective Natural healing spaces for the patients and support the staff supervision, the landscape teams apply EBD theories and prospect-refuge theory into the design by providing open and enclosed spaces.
Under tree canopy, the patients can rest assure and enjoy the abundant of the sensory landscape while offers the staffs clear view. To reduced the pressure of being detained, the fence is hidden by layers of planting used to create natural boundary. Planting strategy is to use the plant materials that promote healing sensory, native evergreen with seasonal bloom. The team concerns of Chromotherapy, using cool color tone to increase vitality and promote sense of relaxation.
2. OPD (Outpatient Department)
This OPD building is the central areas to welcome regular patients. The design of this courtyard aim to promote mental health prevention for new arrival and those who are at the waiting areas.
Using curve-dynamic natural line integrated with sensory garden and water features creates soothing landscape spaces. Walking into immersive nature setting on the natural stone strolling path, it helps reduce anxiety and high blood pressure. Milieu therapy promotes through passive gathering spaces for outdoor picnic and group activities. Softscape design introduces lush evergreen leaf and layers and texture of plant materials with warm color flowers to give interesting seasonal bloom throughout the year.
Existing Banyan tree is preserved on the site and become the main feature of this courtyard. At the low point, rain garden performs ecological function to store urban stormwater during heavy rain.
3. Convalescent Care
Convalescent zone promotes social interaction- Milieu therapy of group activities. This area provides contrast of space: open and shaded. Multi-purpose open lawn area is available to all flexible events such as art exhibition, concert or art and craft market.
Variety of relaxations are offered under tree’s canopy that surrounded by sensory garden. In this transition zone, convalescent patients can participate in the training of working in hospital’s cafe or joining open group therapy.
With help from social interaction with others people, this new recovered patients are learning to prepare themself on getting back to the society. Moreover, this also promotes positive image of the hospital to the public as well.
4. Staff Retreat
Taking care of staffs’mental health is as important as the patients. Staffs including doctors, nurses, and service employees need inclusive relax spaces to get away from stress at work. The team provides variety of landscape resting spaces into the open areas and pocket garden forms for staffs to choose to relax on their preferences whether they want to be alone or hangout as a group.
The King Rama V court provides flexible open lawn for annual ceremony events and also preserved spiritual belief of sacred space, surrounded the lawn by group of trees with long benches for the choices of group relaxation. The Maze garden next to this area offers contrast spaces under existing shaded trees. It allows the person to feel immersive into the nature. Inside, small benches are provide for isolated relaxation.
5. Public Recreation
The public recreation are provided into 2 forms; linear space and open space. First, linear gardens are designed along the internal street of the site. The jogging loop offers running and jogging route for public and act as active forest bathing route which connect all of the green spaces in the hospital.
Moreover, the areas along the canal front are open up and renovate to become a new park with stormwater treatment function in the terraced constructed wetland. The open space as pocket parks are intertwined into the overall master plan that utilize some function into the sites’ green areas.
In term of softscape, plant materials were carefully chosen to establish soothing characteristic of landscape spaces that are appropriate to the level of mental disorder symptoms and also support the ecological function to enhance urban environment. Chromotherapy theory is taking into the consideration in choosing the color scheme that suitable for each healing zone.
Green Healing for the city
In a Macro scale, the landscape team proposed the site as a linkage to connect fragmented green spaces of the district together with green corridors and the existing canals. As part of Green Healing concept, this new green network creates better quality of life by helping to mitigate the city’s environmental problems. To a certain extent,more green spaces will help promote mental health prevention with ultimate goal of reducing the number of future mental health problems.
Project Name: Somdej Chao Phraya Institute of Psychiatry
Location: Somdej Chao Phraya road, Bangkok, Thailand
Project Owner: Somdej Chaopraya Hospital Foundation
Landscape Architect: Redland-scape.Ltd.