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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Asked about the pros and cons of practicing architecture in South Florida, Miami-based Oppenheim Architecture + Design principal and lead designer Chad Oppenheim said, "It's always wonderful to design buildings in a beautiful environment such as Miami." He mentioned specifically the city's connection to nature, and the extent to which the surrounding water, sky, and vegetation provide inspiration. "I think that people come to Miami to enhance their lives, and as a firm it's always been our mission to design buildings and homes to help people achieve just that." But while the landscape and the spirit of the people inhabiting it act as positive stimuli, other regional characteristics are cause for concern. "Typically, I find that Miami is a place where it is expensive to build for what you get," observed Oppenheim, who will deliver the afternoon keynote at September's Facades+ Miami conference. "There is a quality issue that is hard to work around in Miami." The challenge is especially apparent when he compares his South Florida experience to his firm's Switzerland office. "While the building and construction costs may be the same price [in Europe], the quality is a lot better. There's a tremendous passion for craft and quality there that somehow is not necessarily a mission for people here in Miami." At the same time, Oppenheim is heartened by the recent arrival of international design talent on the local architecture scene. "In terms of improvement, as the city becomes more sophisticated and more mature, there's a greater desire for incredible architecture, amazing buildings, and quality projects," he said. As for Oppenheim Architecture + Design's approach to facades, explained Oppenheim, "It's not just about decoration, but how the building's skin can accomplish a goal." In particular, he noted the way in which an overdependence on air conditioning manifests in a one-size-fits-all relationship to the surrounding elements. "We believe that there might be a way to get more connected to the environment, and also do it in a way that's interesting architecturally." Oppenheim cited his firm's recently-completed Net Metropolis in Manila. "The facade includes a combination of sun shading and a high performance insulated glass window wall that minimizes incident solar heat gain and optimizes natural light, while giving occupants a panoramic view of the surrounding city," he said. The green envelope cuts down on the cost and energy consumption associated with air conditioning. "It's a way of dealing with design for the elements, doing it in a more low-tech way," concluded Oppenheim. Connecting the Philippines example back to his home city, he said, "We see a lot of buildings in Miami from before air conditioning was so prevalent featuring screens that become part of the architecture. It's really nice to see those kinds of things and how beautiful and appropriate they are to the climate." To meet Oppenheim and hear more about his take on high performance building envelopes, register for Facades+ Miami today. See a list of symposium speakers and exclusive field trip options on the conference website.
In collaboration with Studio Daniel Libeskind and Armani/Casa, developer Century Properties has begun construction on the Century Spire tower in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. The tower will stand with Trump Tower, the Gramercy Residences, and the Knightsbridge Residences among others to complete the project known as Century City. In a manner similar to some of his alternate works, Libeskind designed the peak of the Century Spire to resemble a skewed, distorted flower. This summit of the building is divided into three sections to create an even more distinct and unprecedented look that is Libeskind's trademark. The 60-story, mixed-use Century Spire will be divided into three sections—offices, residences, and amenity floors. Armani/Casa is designing the building's amenity spaces, which include a massive lobby, pool, library, bar, and relaxation area.