An artist’s rendition of the PMHP Hospital under construction at Calicut, Kerala, India.

KEF Holdings, a UAE-based company specialising in innovative offsite construction technology, has entered into a partnership with Tahpi, an Australian specialist in hospital design, to launch a concept that aims to revolutionise healthcare infrastructure.

Endorsing an ‘assemble rather than build’ approach, the Hospitals in Catalogue concept has been designed to reduce project costs and the timeframe of implementation by almost 50 per cent – achieved largely on the back of innovative industrial technology, automation and economies of scale.

Under the partnership, a KEF-Tahpi Design Studio has been set up at the Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) in Dubai, UAE, for designing the prefabricated hospital modules that will be manufactured at the $350-million KEF Industrial Park in Krishnagiri, India. A second manufacturing unit, now taking shape under an investment of $100 million in Jebel Ali, Dubai, is expected to be completed in the third quarter of this year.

The concept, described at the world’s first industrialised approach to healthcare design and construction, was well received at the Arab Health exhibition and congress held in Dubai in January (25 to 28). At the event, KEF-Tahpi unveiled catalogues for five prototype hospitals, each offering the complete turnkey package including the facilities, equipment, commissioning and manuals.

Speaking to Gulf Construction, Faizal Kottikolon, chairman of KEF Holdings, says this alliance to establish the KEF-Tahpi Design Studio marks an important step for the healthcare sector in the UAE.

He says the studio aims to establish new dynamics in healthcare design. “The new entity combines Tahpi’s expertise of soft modular design with KEF’s experience in hard modular construction. Soft modular design techniques create component blueprints and specifications that are replicable in compliance with relevant codes and guidelines. On the other hand, hard modular design construction takes these blueprints and actually manufactures the components by rapid assembly, automation and industrial offsite techniques and assembles them on-site.”

Bringing together the core competencies of KEF Holdings and Tahpi, the design studio aims to offer a smart approach to the planning and execution of healthcare infrastructure across the region. It will provide modular and industrial designs for all prefabricated components of the healthcare facility including concrete structure, whole room pods, wall packs, and staircases.

A prototype of an ensuite patient’s room ... showcased at Arab Health 2015.

A prototype of an ensuite patient’s room ... showcased at Arab Health 2015.

The studio will implement a full industrialisation of processes for design, construction and delivery, and offer clients the convenience of choosing options from a design catalogue. The company’s creations also include designs that can be pre-approved by local health authorities, exceeding the GCC’s high benchmarks for quality and excellence.

The ‘catalogue hospitals’ can accommodate anything between 18 to 500 beds.

 “Although clients would not uniquely own the design and simply receive the final product, as in the case of manufactured cars, it is worth pointing out here that our design and engineering effectively come at no extra cost,” Kottikolon adds.

“We will give our clients an infinite number of options as well as personal design preferences that they can select from a design catalogue. These catalogue hospitals will feature a range of choices such as finishes, cladding types and branding elements. Effectively, clients will be exercising their own creativity by making their choices within a showroom environment.”

Kottikolon says applying this model to the healthcare industry means that hospital and clinic components can be carefully designed in the lab studio, and then manufactured on a large-scale in a facility dedicated to modular construction.

Kottikolon says the company has a number  of projects in the pipeline. “The first pilot project is being constructed in Calicut, Kerala, India. It’s a 500-bed, tertiary care facility which will be open to the public in Q1 2016. We also have a number of projects planned in the GCC which will be announced shortly.”

KEF is currently building the 500-bed tertiary hospital in Calicut, with Tahpi as its strategic partner. When complete, the PMHP Hospital will be India’s first healthcare facility designed and developed entirely using offsite construction.

He adds KEF has held many discussions with client groups, both public and private in the GCC region.

“From these meetings, we perceive high interest in the new concept for the advanced industrial technology, as well as the exceptional time and cost efficiency offered. We are currently in the final stages of securing contracts for design-and-build projects.”

Giving an overview of the healthcare sector in the region, Kottikolon says spending is expected to rise by an average of 10 per cent annually across the Middle East and Africa, impacted by population growth and the demand for smarter, more advanced healthcare facilities.

 “Access to good hospitals and healthcare facilities is a basic human right that countries work tirelessly to provide for citizens. However, demand from rapidly increasing populations in the Middle East and India far outstrips the supply of durable, affordable, and quality infrastructure. The KEF-Tahpi Design Studio’s cost and time-effective modular solutions cater to the supply gap for smart infrastructure offerings in the healthcare industry.

“The studio, therefore, is an ideal concept for this region for the reasons already stated, but also because efficiently designed healthcare at lower prices and shorter delivery time will help jump-start the UAE’s medical tourism sector that is a core priority area for the government,” Kottikolon notes.

“Another focus area is national innovation, and the KEF-Tahpi Design Studio is perfectly aligned to this strategy. Leveraging modular, offsite technology that reduces resources used in the long term, the region is well poised to integrate technology and data into the fabric of the healthcare ecosystem,” he concludes.

KEF Holdings was established in 2007 and is registered in Singapore. It operates across India, the Middle East and Singapore. The company has six business verticals: KEF Infra, KEF Health, KEF Education, KEF Agri, KEF Metals and KEF Investments – that focus on the infrastructure, healthcare, education, agriculture, metals and investment sectors, respectively. KEF’s industrial forte lies in its ability to deliver cutting-edge offsite construction technology and solutions, including precast, prefabricated bathrooms, joinery and aluminium glazing.

Tahpi is an award-winning, international firm of specialist health facility planners, hospital architects and clinical interior designers. It provides a complete range of consultancy services for the health facility planning, design, construction supervision and operational commissioning in-house.

These services include masterplanning, clinical services planning and briefing, detailed architectural design and construction documentation as well as monitoring of all processes to final completion and operation.