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King's Hospitals project: Renovating Yi-ngo community hospital in Naratiwat using Universal Design

Project name: King’s community hospitals - Yi-ngo in Narathiwat

Funder/Sponsor: Department of Health, Bureau of Policy and Strategy - Ministry of Public Health, Thai Health Promotion Foundation

Collaborator: Faculty of Architecture Kasetsart University, Community Architect teams including Jaiban Studio and CROSSs

Year: 2016-2017

Project type: Design 


In late 2016, ten King’s hospitals across Thailand were chosen to be renovated by different teams of communityarchitects using government funding. The project aimed to transform these small district hospitals into community hospitals, to be a central attribute of the communities they serve. Tar-Saeng Studio was commissioned to undertake the renovation of two hospitals: Had Samran Hospital in Trang and Yi-ngo hospital in Narathiwat. We used a participatory approach, working with the local communities, the hospital staff and representatives from the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, and the Ministry of Public Health.


The Yi-ngo community hospital in Narathiwat

At the Yi-ngo community hospital in the Narathiwat province, we were assigned two tasks:  

  1. Redesign the Masterplanof the entire hospital area

  2. Redesign the new Out-Patient Department building, which includes the OPD and the Dental Department on the second floor. While the OPD has not yet been built, there is a design completed by a government agency. While functional, this design is about hospital standard, with no local flavour or culture. Our task was therefore to keep the existing design and structure but find a way to incorporate more “stories”. 

Redesigning the OPD building

Since the building design and structure were not to be altered, there were only two areas we could get involved with: the building’s façade and interior.

During our participatory design workshops, we focused on distilling visual representations of Yi-ngo’s cultural identity. The area has a strong Muslim presence, with Malay roots. We found that “Dok Lai”, a Malay flower motif, was very significant for the local community. In fact, most houses with Malay architecture incorporate flower motives over the windows and doors to convey different meanings such as protection, and to bring about good health and happiness. We therefore decided to incorporate the Dok Lai flower motives as the main “character” of the OPD building. We proposed wood carvings for the façade, using the “character of the meaningful flowers” in the area; the final motives will be chosen before the construction by the local teacher and guru. This method is designed to be applied on the façade and the interior; for example, on the furniture, walls, backdrop, and the main building installation to commemorate King Bhumibol Adulyadej.


This was in line with the vision of the hospital Director, who wanted the interior to strongly represent Malay architecture. We proposed a huge backdrop of carved wood with Dok Lai patterns for the main information counter – the first place visitors get to see  and feel the Dok Lai energy once they enter the building. 

Redesigning the Masterplan of the Yi-ngo Community Hospital

In the case of Yi-ngo, the hospital Director had a clear vision of the redesign of the hospital: he wanted to turn all the outdoor area into an exercise park, thus promoting physical activity for all visitors. Our team proposed to design different exercise stations to reflect the data collected from the design workshop with the local community and hospital team.

Our redesign included the following stations: 

  • A circular cycling route that encircled the hospital: starting at the front of the building, going alongside to the back of the building, around to a big pond and around to the farming area inside the building, ending back at the front 

  • yoga station around the middle back of the hospital, on an elevated wooden platform

  • relaxing area around the pond where people can walk or cycle 

  • An exercise structure for elderly people at the front; the front of the building is generally busy, so people can keep an eye on the elderly people

  • children’s play area in a busy area so the kids can be supervised

  • Soccerbasketball and badminton courts in the back of the building which is more spacious 

  • farming area used for relaxation and learning about growing food organically. This area can be turned into a physical activity area through farming activities 

During the design workshops, the community raised the issue of insufficient praying areas when visiting the hospital. We therefore added more praying areas in the plan, one around the OPD where relatives stay longer, and one on the side of the hospital where elderly people gather – to lessen the distance for the elderly. 


The Masterplan also includes a garbage management plan: the hospital is ultimately designed to be self-sustaining – growing their own food, managing their waste and becoming a place for people to become healthy, both physically and mentally. 

To read more about our process in designing the renovation of the Yi-ngo community hospital, please visit our blog.