In the summer of 2019 we participated in a design competition organized by the architects association of municipality of Santander in Colombia for the design of a new Hospital, “Unidad Intermedia Materno Infantil Santa Teresa” (UIMIST), in Bucaramanga. In this design competition, we collaborated with our Colombian partner John Drissen Architects. Besides our Colombian partner our team was truly diverse and inclusive team both by gender and cultural background. Unfortunately, we did not win, but are proud we were able to be part of this high-level design competition. Our sincere congratulations go to the winners of the competition.
A hospital is like a machine.
Patients move in, are treated according to medical protocol and are later discharged. But healing is more than merely following a medical protocol. The healing process is enhanced by a healing environment. Peace of mind and connection to nature are key factors for a healing environment. We believe that a harmonious design with integrated healing gardens can enhance the healing process.
Creating (semi) public space
Having a past where violence was part of the daily life, the use of the public space has to be reclaimed in Colombia. Buramanga is also called “la cuidad bella” (the beautiful city) because of all the parks in the city. We have tried to create a new elevated park for the hospital which is the waiting area for the people soliciting medical treatment. This elevated park is vertically extended through the double façade and also interconnects with the green waiting areas on the higher levels.
Using contemporary knowledge on bioclimatic design we came to the conclusion that a double façade will be an ideal solution for the climatic challenges. The outer façade, the skin, is perforated to reduce the amount of direct sun light penetration while keeping sufficient daylight. For this semi-permeable skin we analyzed the pre-Colombian art of the Guane tripe (from the region of Bucaramanga) and also Mayan architecture and based on that we have created patterns with a strong reference to these indigenous patterns. In the façade the patterns become more dense as you go higher, increasing the level of privacy which is required for the function behind the façade. An interesting detail is that we have used Algorithms Aided Design to model the façade. This exemplifies our approach to architecture, innovating based on a brought understanding of the past.
Bucaramanca has a very stable temperature gradient during the year. The average temperature is 23.5 degrees the maximum around 28 and the minimum around 19 degrees. An ideal temperature to work in is 24 degrees. The corridors of the hospital have a north south orientation. The prevailing wind comes from the north northwest and about 30% of the year the wind comes from the south, southeast. In both situation openings on the north and south façade are ideal for cross ventilation. With our double skin combined with greenery we make sure that the amount of heat that can enter the building is reduced to a minimum. The air temperature in Bucaramanga is 23-24 degrees, so if we are able to extract the warm air that is produced by humans and equipment in the room and bring in fresh air from the surroundings we can maintain an inside temperature of 24-25 degrees without mechanical cooling.
Flexibility of design
Medical equipment, medical procedures and medical therapies are changing in a rapid pace, but our buildings are normally less flexible. In the design of the UIMIST we created a standard grid layout of 7200mm, 8100mm and 7200mm. This setup maximizes the amount of rooms that can be realized on the perimeter with ample daylight while giving the possibility to create rooms in the center which need less direct daylight. All floors of our building are based on this setup, so if in the future UIMIST wants to reduce the amount of rooms and increase the polyclinic, or vice versa, this can easily be done.