Cultural and Contextual Appropriateness

Momin adamjee centre renovation

Text by: Taimoor K. Mumtaz (Project Architect)
Designed by: Kamil Khan Mumtaz Architects, Lahore.

The Lahore architectural firm, Kamil Khan Mumtaz Architects were hired by Sina Health, Education & Welfare Trust to provide design consultancy for primary healthcare clinics in Karachi, with a view to:

a) The Physical Fabric, which was to include cost-effectiveness, good building practice, energy-efficiency and sustainability; and
b) Cultural/Contextual Appropriateness, with the aim of producing an inspirational and uplifting building envelope and interior.

KKM Architects were to develop detailed designs for standardized building systems for various possible scenarios. The two main scenarios being:
i) Re-modeling, and ii) New construction or ‘Green-field’.

The first of these projects, the Momin Adamjee Clinic, named after the donors’ mother, was of re-modeling a 200 sq yards katchi abadi house with shops at the front. The site was located in Shireen Jinnah Colony in Clifton. The architects were commissioned in September 2013 and the project opened on ground on 25th April 2014.

The client, Sina Health, Education & Welfare Trust is a professionally managed, not for profit trust that was founded in 2007 to provide quality primary healthcare to less privileged communities at their door step. To date, SINA has established nine quality primary healthcare clinics in various urban slums of Karachi. Over 300,000 patients are treated at these clinics annually. More than 80% of SINA’s beneficiaries are women and children, most of whom are Zakat eligible. (Source: www.sina.pk).

Architect’s Note on Design Approach for Re-modeling of Sina Clinic at Shireen Jinnah Colony Structural response: The roofing system had to be light-weight given the thin (4 inch) load-bearing concrete-block walls of the existing structure. Hence corrugated G.I. sheets on M/S steel section and I-beams.Existing I-beams were used where possible.

Climatic response: Karachi’s Maritime/Coastal Hot-Humid Climate requires a low thermal-capacity structure (due to the small diurnal – day/night temperature differential) which should be coupled with shade and cross- ventilation. The image of a tree is a perfect illustration of the climatic design principles appropriate for Karachi.

Therefore it was proposed to have high level openings (these would also bring in light) on the windward side of the building with openings diagonally across from this at body height to facilitate cross-ventilation. In an ‘open-plan approach partition walls have also been kept low – with concrete lattice-jails at eye-level where privacy is needed – to facilitate wind movement. All interior spaces are well shaded. The G.I. sheet roofing in insulated by placing thermopore sheet coupled with aluminum foil over a gypsum board ceiling.

Materials: Local materials are often cost-effective and appropriate hence the choice of cement, concrete and sand was logical for Karachi in the case of Sina’s remodeling projects such as the Shireen Jinnah Clinic where there is projected to be minimal new structural construction. (In the case where a clinic is to be constructed from scratch it may be that bricks and lime-mortar are more cost-effective and environmentally responsible). Thus all finishing materials and elements are cement based, either as colour-crete or custom-designed molded coloured/terrazzo concrete elements. These would include (more elements may be added) mold-&-cast modular concrete Lattice Screens/Jalis and Dados. These could include Benches if not already available in the market. The idea is to develop a set of mold-&-cast modular elements which would be cost- effective and distinctive to Sina clinics.

For floors and interior dados appropriate already available cement or concrete tiles are used:Pressed-Cement coloured tiles for interior floors;Concrete Pavers for exterior floors;Matt-finished Cement/Concrete Tiles for interior courts; andTerrazzo Tiles for interior dados.

Façades: The facades aim to defer to the vocabulary of the traditional architecture of Sind, more particularly of Thatta and Makli, which is one of the most distinctive architectural traditions not only of Pakistan but of world architecture in general. The vocabulary of this architecture which is in brick and stone hasbeen transformed into the modular building elements (as mentioned above) in cast colour-crete.

Further information see: Documentary titled ‘Tree of Life – MominAdamjee Center in Shireen Jinnah Colony’ at www.sina.pk.

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