Healthcare Design Talent Assists in West Bengal

Approached by iKure, a leading-edge Indian social enterprise specializing in healthcare delivery, our Design 4 Others team was tasked with designing a new central clinic and headquarters in Baruipur, West Bengal. The client specializes in high-tech, low-cost healthcare delivery, and expected the clinic’s design to take a similar approach. This presented a challenge: how can a building adopt a research-based approach to computational design while maintaining a low cost of construction?

Design that Utilizes Artificial Intelligence

A major component of iKure’s work lies in optimizing healthcare delivery using a sophisticated AI-driven model developed together with IBM’s Big Data team. A similar algorithmic approach was taken for the building’s massing: thousands of iterations of a random form were analyzed for their suitability for the building’s program and the amount of shade that they provide during the day. As the form-finding algorithm evaluates each iteration, it learns from its successes and failures and carefully evolves into a form that maximizes the available shade.

The eventual result? A courtyard building, reminiscent of the traditional villa style in West Bengal. The final form features an abundance of smaller lightwells ringing a single, larger courtyard. This layout allowed for a clear, efficient ring-road circulation; importantly, the small lightwells sit at the intersection of each hallway, giving users a sunlit beacon to move towards. This effect is most pronounced at the entry lobby, where users are greeted with views of lightwells at both north and south. Porous brick towers have been placed at each aperture, which filter light both in and out of the building — in the evening, they stand as beacons for the larger Baripur community.

ikure design courtyard

In an inversion of the algorithm-led development of the building’s massing, where the architect interprets and adapts a computer-generated form, the brick perforations are the result of custom software interpreting and adapting an architect-driven design. The software takes a photograph or sketch as its input and attempts to replicate it in brick form; a real-time physics simulation allows unstable iterations to fall to the ground. The bricks collapse repeatedly until they eventually learn to form a structurally-sound version of the intended design.

This optimization and the shade-based massing tool use only local labour and vernacular techniques. Instead of using computational design to merely realize a complex form, these approaches ultimately increase equity by enabling others to build in a way that is both performance-driven and place-based.

Design 4 Others is a philanthropic initiative operated out of HDR’s architecture practice with a mission to positively impact lives by dedicating time and expertise to projects that improve the human condition around the world. Our HDR design teams work with industry partners toward common goals — to make a difference by providing architecture, engineering and planning services for limited or no compensation. Find out more in the D4O Impact Report.


Baruipur, West Bengal