The Al-Maha Centre for Children and Young Adults is a specialised healthcare facility focused on providing world-class care to patients with a range of complex medical needs and developmental challenges. The facility is located on the existing campus of Qatar’s Al-Wakra hospital, approximately 30 minutes from Doha. The client is the Hamad Medical Corporation of Qatar.

The centre accommodates young patients across a range of ages, from infants through to 17 year olds. Services include a strong focus on ambulatory care, including respite care, outpatient clinics, therapy zones and hydrotherapy, as well as programmes covering early intervention and autism. Long-term inpatient services will cater to patients with varying medical needs, from general maintenance through to highly specialised care, including cerebral palsy. All patient rooms will accommodate ventilated support.

Community integration

While ensuring the design facilitates the delivery of specialist clinical services, the ambience is non-institutional, with an emphasis on community integration and bold geometry. The entry axis leads from the arrival area through the major public space and terminates at the prayer room. A line of palms and a geometric water feature border this axis. The facility is divided into three planning zones: the arrival space (modelled as a traditional souq) accommodating the reception, resources centre, a cafeteria and meeting rooms; the ‘neighbourhoods’, accommodating the clinics and ambulatory services; and the 24-hour care ‘residences’. Administrative spaces are accommodated on the upper level together with shared zones for the inpatient units, including gyms and education spaces. Support and logistics facilities are located in a service basement.

The architecture takes its cue from traditional construction techniques and materials

Landscape is an integral part of the design. As with the architecture, the approach is traditional, incorporating low maintenance indigenous materials where possible and healing gardens. The design recognises the importance of landscape in creating a positive patient environment. The neighbourhood zone is planned around three major courtyard spaces that provide plenty of light for the outpatient areas. All inpatient rooms are located on the ground level and enjoy expansive views of the landscaping.

Sensory experience

The architecture takes its cue from traditional construction techniques and materials. Simple flat roofs and the horizontal expression emphasise the domestic, homely context. A local stone is used in a random format on selected facades, together with a rough pigmented render.

The Al-Maha Centre is designed as a sensory experience to aid the healthcare needs of children and young adults. Natural light is filtered through decorative external shading devices that provide constantly changing patterns inside. Splashes of colour are introduced to the warm neutral palette of key areas of the building, including the bedrooms. In the gardens, water features provide a serene, therapeutic environment, while the soft landscaping stimulates the senses with a variety of fragrances.