Vaiola Hospital
Nuku'alofa, Tonga

Vaiola Hospital is situated on Taufa’ahau Road on the outskirts of Nuku’alofa. The existing hospital is facing a long term upgrade funded by the World Bank in conjunction with the Ministry of Health.

JCA were engaged for phase one of the project consisting of a new Psychiatric Ward. Having worked previously on the adjacent Ministry of Health building, JCA had developed invaluable knowledge on local construction techniques and proven building materials.

This enabled a construction methodology to be implemented which would assist in maintaining the building program and minimising costs.Resilient and robust building materials were used to reflect the harsh environment but to also minimise long term maintenance.

As with the MoH building, cultural sensibilities were paramount in ensuring the success of the completed project. This became more apparent during the consultation period as the needs of Mental Health patients require greater levels of control than those within the main ward.

JCA developed a design that would create a positive environment for staff and patients alike, while providing a building that allows control of patients through the use of the latest psychiatric design philosophies.

The building reflects the tropical environment of Tonga. Cross ventilation maximises available sea breezes whilst large roof overhangs provide shelter from both intense sun and torrential rain. Storm water collection tanks have also been installed to store water for reuse in the building. These ESD principles have been incorporated to reduce the building’s carbon footprint and overall life cycle costs.

The completed building provides a sensitive solution to a culturally difficult assignment as part of the Government of Tonga’s strategy to improve the country’s health care system.