Project Update | Centro Hospitalario Serena del Mar

A New Model Of Healing Garden Hospital

Full Press Release + Project Features or as a pdf download below.

Characterized by its connectivity to nature, the landmark medical facility - Centro Hospitalario Serena del Mar - is Safdie Architects’ first hospital project and first project in Latin America

“In life we must learn how to give before we can ever receive. The hospital is our family’s way to give back to a community, a country that has given us so many opportunities. With Moshe and team, we set out to design and build a solution to the most basic of human needs, quality health care. The Centro Hospitalario Serena del Mar is that exceptional structure that instills comfort and confidence in all of those who visit it. Its stately beauty, contextually appropriate design, and natural setting begin the healing process to those who enter through its doors.”

— Daniel Haime, President, Serena del Mar

A critical new resource for Cartagena, Colombia and the Caribbean region, Centro Hospitalario Serena del Mar (CHSM) is the first hospital designed by Safdie Architects and the firm’s first project to open in Latin America. The advanced teaching hospital offers comprehensive human-centered medical care with the highest safety and quality standards to the over one million residents of Cartagena and wider Caribbean region. Premised on the notion that access to nature and daylight is vital to creating improved therapeutic experiences for patients, families, and staff, the design focuses on providing a sense of well-being, leading to better clinical outcomes. The hospital began a phased opening to the public earlier this year with 158 beds; once complete, CHSM will service the region with over 400 hospital beds.

The hospital anchors the Safdie Architects-designed masterplan for the El Gran Canal civic district within Serena del Mar, a new 2,500-acre city currently in development on the Caribbean coast, in the north of Cartagena. The first public-facing institution to open in the emerging master-planned city, the hospital establishes Cartagena’s first full-service medical institution. Phase 1 of the hospital comprises approximately 575,870 square feet with the full project spanning 753,480 square feet of hospital facilities and gardens. 

Sited overlooking a lake, CHSM is conceived of as a garden hospital. The design offers patients, staff, and families access to a diverse array of gardens throughout the building including a linear bamboo courtyard, a healing garden associated with cancer treatment, and a series of lakeside gardens connected by a waterfront promenade. Inpatient facilities are housed in five wings designed with shallow floor plates to maximize the spaces with direct proximity to windows, daylight, and views of the surrounding lake, hills, gardens, and courtyards. Even in areas where operational efficiency is paramount (emergency rooms, labs, and clinics), daylight and views to nature are maintained, creating an uplifting environment conducive to healing.

“Daylight and openness to the outside are fundamental to the sense of wellbeing. In most hospitals, you are in an environment that’s oppressive. You have no sense of where you are, you have no light. We approached the hospital with two ideas in mind: one, that daylight is key; the other is that gardens, courtyards, and water are already places of healing. These give the hospital a completely different feeling from any hospital that I know.”

– Moshe Safdie, Founder, Safdie Architects

Clad with a cream-colored stone recalling the traditional coral stone of the old city of Cartagena, the architecture of the hospital responds to the tropical Caribbean climate with deep roof overhangs, recessed windows, and motorized sliding shutters which mitigates heat gain, while maximizing views and daylight.

To efficiently maintain, replace, reconfigure, or expand medical services, an entire floor of the hospital has been devoted to mechanical services, equipment, and distribution. This innovative approach in hospital planning allows for ultimate flexibility without disrupting operations.

“For Centro Hospitalario at Serena Del Mar we wanted to create a new kind of hospital: highly efficient but inherently humane. We envisioned a space that provides an uplifting and healing environment, one that avoids the institutional anonymity often associated with hospitals.”

- Sean Scensor, Partner, Safdie Architects

Published in Events on November 11, 2021