Serena Del Mar Hospital

Cartagena, Colombia, 2021 / Built

The contemporary hospital must be an efficient machine, effectively serving patients, staff and the public at large. It must do so with clarity, in a manner that is self-orienting. But, above all, a hospital must be a place that provides an uplifting and healing environment. The design of the Serena del Mar Hospital ensures a connection to nature through every part of the building; even in areas where operational efficiency is paramount, exposure to the surrounding lake and gardens is maintained.

The new Serena del Mar Hospital is the first project to be constructed as part of Safdie Architects' masterplan for a 140-hectare new civic district near Cartagena, Colombia. Designed in consultation with Johns Hopkins International, and operated by Fundación Santa Fe de Bogotá, the hospital is a high-complexity teaching hospital to serve the city of Cartagena and the Caribbean region. The hospital will accommodate 158 beds in the first phase, and 409 beds once all phases are complete.

The main lobby of the building is designed with serene palette of local materials evoking a general sense of calm. The lobby looks out to a continuous garden of green bamboo.

The building consists of a circulation spine in between a linear bar structure, accommodating labs and offices, and a bamboo garden that extends from one end of the hospital to the other. Five wings project towards the lake, forming garden courtyards between them.

A linear courtyard planted entirely with bamboo, creates separation and privacy between the inpatient wings and public outpatient services. Glass elevators, stairs, and public corridors are organized around the bamboo garden, which offers a soothing visual constant, making it easy for visitors to orient themselves and navigate around the hospital.

Each patient room is flooded with natural light and views overlooking the lake and gardens. Motorized sliding exterior shutters filter sunlight and are controlled individually for each room, giving patients more autonomy and control over their room environment.

Lighting is recessed and integrated within walls and ceilings to provide indirect illumination, which contributes to a calm environment and avoids glare when seen from patients lying in beds looking up at the ceiling in both patient rooms and corridors.

An interstitial floor at the third level provides a clear open space for mechanical services, medical equipment, and distribution, with the flexibility of being able to add and replace equipment as technology and needs evolve.


A Place for Healing