Prathma Blood Centre
The Center has its origins in an Invited Architectural Competition in 1998. The promoters, Advanced Transfusion Medical Research Foundation, a not for profit charitable trust, envisioned a place that would revolutionalize voluntary blood collection and blood component disbursal without replacement, at affordable costs through professional management. ‘Prathama’ was to be the country’s first, situated in Ahmedabad. Being a pioneering endeavor, the building had to be a new ‘type’, where the challenge was to make a service intensive medical entity into a playful, intuitive receptacle, by removing the repulsion associated with medical facilities and transforming it into an inviting public domain. Located on a non-descript corner plot donated by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, the site offered no specific context to begin with.
The plan is an outcome of a rational step-by-step intervention that resulted in the basic defining lines.The exterior ‘Skin’ that presents an image of ‘the simple and one’, disintegrates into sub spaces as soon as the entrance ushers one into a fourstorey ‘Void’. From this buffer, one becomes visually conscious of the activities carried out. The glass wall disappears showcasing the complete ‘Process’, (Photos 7)Highlights like the Blast Freezer, Conference room and a Hangout balcony are further accentuated by protruding them out of the glass wall. Standing mute and staid, The ‘Support’ block of services, silently feeds the Process with its requisite demands. The building stands manifested in its intrinsic nature within and an object rooted in nature without.
The project has specifically dealt with restrictions of space and economy. The costs have been kept abysmally low by custom designing and locally fabricating all doors, windows, modular furniture including steel work stations, press metal storages, double glazed partitions, even door handles. Moreover, the Architect’s Scope of work included certain product design items like the auditorium chairs and fully automatic donor chairs, hot and cold-water dispensers, compact cold room blood stacking & identification system & moving ladders for cleaning glass, even two specially designed blood donation vans. Large fixed furniture like conference, reception and pantry tables are all set insitu concrete as also the 5 m long entrance gates. The staircases are composed of precast concrete units. The false ceiling and acoustic paneling in auditorium is in lightweight concrete with insulating vermiculite. All the wooden planks used for exposed form work was salvaged and was later used for the auditorium staging. Rainwater is collected and directed into percolation tanks and the water body is a self-sustained ecosystem with Koi fishes and water lilies. (Photo 6)The project was completed in 12 months and was built at a cost of under $200 per SqM., including civil, electrical, plumbing, air-conditioning, interiors and site development.
Can architecture traverse the boundaries and become all incompassing ‘Design’? Can architecture become a catalyst in motives that are social? Can architecture be a low cost pursuit without having to appear so? Can architecture transform mere facilities into public institutions? These are some of the issues the design attempts to address.