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A very important point that Laurie always stressed was that before he planned any building, (a house or a hospital or a place of worship) it is critical to study the needs of the people who are to use the building. It is not a place to exhibit your wealth, or your prominence in society! Wherever possible, he studied the character, and the needs and habits of his clients. This is somewhat brought out in the inaugural address of a rural hospital that he built in a remote area of Tamilnadu for the Ramakrishna Ashram and for the Sivananda Mission Ashram in Tirunalveli District. This is a part of his speech at that function:


`The majority of India's people live in her villages, and when they fall ill, they experience great hardship in procuring the services of a hospital or doctor. They have to cover long distances to reach a hospital often, after a long and wearisome journey, either walking, or by bullock cart, or in a crowded bus. When they arrive, they are bewildered by the strange, new surroundings, and the scores of other patients all clamoring to be seen and treated for a wide variety of complaints. After they arrive, they sill have to go through certain formalities and procedures before they face the doctor which means endless waiting, and hoping. Rural hospitals need to be planned and designed to cope with these difficult conditions peculiar to rural areas, and to come to the aid of the villager, who seeks help to ensure that he does not feel lost, helpless and dazed in an atmosphere which is just likely to induce such feelings. Evidently they have to incorporate certain features, which are not so necessary in a normally accepted city central hospital. In the first place, the buildings of the rural hospital should instill confidence in the village folk: They have to be simple, friendly, attractive and unforbidding.


They have to be built with local materials, with which he is familiar in his village. He will arrive at the outpatient department, a building which has to be open, airy, and spacious. In the cool sheltered area, he should be able to see where the different departments and people he has to contact are situated. As far as possible there will be a common sense sequence of these basic steps leading him to the doctor. He may have to wait his turn for this and that, but he should be able to see that he has come to the right place so that before long, he can see where and how he will get help. If he has to remain in the hospital for treatment, his surroundings have to be clean and cheerful, and not too dissimilar from those of his village. He has to be cared for and made to feel at home and certainly not regimented and imprisoned. Normally he is close to nature- Mother Earth herself – trees, grass, birds and animals, and there is no reason why he should be deprived of the sight of these things when in hospital. His normal life is lived more "out doors" than "indoors". So he should not be expected suddenly to change these conditions, even if he is too ill to move he should be able to see from his bed, these familiar sights.


Obviously, all the benefits of modern medicine and surgery, should be available to him. Special rooms are needed to house appliances and equipments needed and such rooms must meet all the required standards of hygiene, without having to look, cold, sterile and forbidding. The anterooms, corridors, and waiting rooms can still retain the familiar, 'inside-outside' characteristics of his village surroundings and buildings. Villagers already know and practice much that educated urban people are now pleased to term 'appropriate technology', 'alternate energy sources', or `recycled waste' etc. The hospital, which may have to serve as his home for a period of time, should not make him critical of waste.


Our rural hospital will keep cows for milk; wholesome food grain will be grown. The villagers who have to stay in the hospital are exposed to numerous experiences in the simple but functionally efficient buildings and the use of the land, etc. the hope is to send them back home, not only renewed in health, but enriched with a variety of experiences of which, they can talk, think about, and adopt in their villages.