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Designed after Da Vinci

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The design brief for a new 15-storey teaching hospital complex at Siriraj, comprised a large anatomy laboratory with several smaller ones, along with an auditorium, lecture theatres, classrooms, and pre-clinic and medical informatics supporting facilities. When I was commissioned for the project and the anatomy laboratory was mentioned, the first thing that came to my mind were the sketches of the dissected human body by Leonardo da Vinci of five centuries earlier. As the building design developed and complicated space planning requirements and engineering took over, the initial momentary thought of the sketches must have been already well embedded in my mind for they resurfaced in the design of the building, in particular the front elevation. Like the human anatomy drawings, the building is opened up “surgically” to reveal the physiological structure behind. In spite of the intense propagation of Leonardo da Vinci’s scientific and technological works, including city planning, hydraulic and military engineering, the popular perception of the master is still the painter of Mona Lisa. Few realise, however, that as a painter he only produced 23 canvases in his whole life. The anatomy laboratory complex at Siriraj Hospital, in a way, can be regarded as a Vincian building in that I merely served as a “medium” so that his sketches may be re-interpreted architecturally in our time.

This talk is part of the Martin Centre Research Seminar Series - 43rd Annual Series of Lunchtime Lectures series.

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