Construction is set to begin this month for a joint hospital and trauma care center in Baler, Philippines. Designed by Brooklyn-based Carlos Arnaiz Architects (CAZA), the Ospital Pacifica de Juan and Juana Angara will be the firm’s first healthcare design project and the first hybrid hospital and trauma center for the Pacific island nation.

The $8 million, 65,817 square-foot medical complex will have a daily patient capacity of 75 and will offer an array of services, including maternity wards, imaging, operating rooms, a chapel, and a café. The proposed facility will also seek to foster the therapeutic presence of Baler’s natural, tropical aesthetic, by incorporating a series of undulating canopies that will also shelter an extensive courtyard, surfaced with tiles and grass, in the center of the hospital. 

According to a press release, CAZA designed the hospital and trauma center in three parts, with “adaptable modularity and operational growth” in mind, offering an array of different arrangements for patient and examination rooms.

The first modular form is the structural skeleton—a prefabricated concrete structure that’s bolted into place and organizes the facility at an infrastructural level, weaving gas, plumbing, and ventilation ducts through its beams and columns. The second modular aspect is the facility’s doors, walls, and windows, which are made of lighter materials, that fasten into the concrete. Insulating packets inserted where the wall structures meet the concrete create a seal that permits higher levels of hygiene, for example, in an operating room where sterility is a matter of life and death. The perimeter of the building will be produced onsite—a series of awnings and gardens built locally, with rather inexpensive materials and where labor is also affordable. 

“Normally trauma centers in urban areas are big and separate from hospitals,” principal architect Carlos Arnaiz said. “The idea of doing a small scale trauma center for rural communities and small towns was really unusual,” and given that there was no “precedent or case study, we had to really hybridize techniques and knowledge from different sectors.”

Research for the project spanned over the course of half of a year, during which time the firm consulted with different trauma center specialists on both the planning and operations side in the United States, as well as a host of contacts in the Philippines who would provide culturally specific insights.

“In the Philippines, we talked to a number of people in the government, people in the [Department] of Health with familiarity about health and trauma centers, and people at the university level,” Arnaiz said. The University of the Philippines School of Health Sciences has a campus located adjacent to where the hospital is set to be built.

Anraiz said he’s excited to be the first boutique firm to design a health and trauma center and take a different approach, saying that healthcare in the design and architecture world has “been monopolized by large corporate firms that have a lot of experience doing this.”

“Given the fact that it’s being done in a community where costs will be a major factor, we’re not focused on high-end finishing, or focused on the 1%. We’re focused on communities where healthcare doesn’t exist,” Arnaiz said. 

Arnaiz also said the chapel is an important part of the design, allowing “space to retreat from the intensity of a hospital and to commune in silence.” While the non-denominational meditation space is removed from the central facilities, it’s the first thing one sees upon entry. The chapel is clad in the stone used for the landscape walls, while custom-designed screen bricks were used to wrap the apse and admit light in an ethereal manner.

“The intent here is to fuse the ground with the sky and connect people with the dual belief that our souls come and go to both places upon death,” Arnaiz said.

CAZA has set March 2018 as an anticipated date for medical center’s completion.

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