The new Curacao Medical Center (CMC) – in operation since November 2019 – means a great improvement for the care on Curacao and the entire Caribbean region. An immense leap has been made from a 164-year-old, to a state-of-the-art hospital. Architects from OZ and EGM joined together to design the new medical center of 40.000 m2.
The image of healthcare on Curacao as being backward, certainly deserves to be changed after the opening of the hospital: the CMC has the most modern equipment and meets international standards. A special feature of the design is that it fits within the given climate and culture. The hospital therefore allows both staff and patients to feel at home. Physical and mental comfort serves to work on recovery. Residents of the Dutch Caribbean also receive care here. OZ-architects Chris Zwiers and Lyongo Juliana proudly talk about the design and what it can mean for the users.
First new hospital in 164 years
It has been a long road leading up to the new CMC. The previous hospital had already been in operation for 164 years and was very outdated. First reports of the desire to build a new hospital date back to 1963. The Curacao government wants to realise a new hospital at the level of international standards and the government commissioned the Netherlands Antilles Development Foundation (USONA) to develop an operational hospital for them. Our assignment consisted of the building realization, furnishing and training of the personnel with the aim of creating a state-of-the-art hospital.
Following the market consultation in 2011, Ballast Nedam was informed by OZ that this development was coming. OZ has Caribbean architects and 25 years of experience in building on Curacao and EGM Architects was asked because of their extensive hospital expertise. Therefore OZ and EGM jointly developed a concept proposal for the mass construction of the hospital.
The urban task – which also included the hospital being built within a UNESCO area – was the responsibility of OZ. The CMC is the first hospital that the office has realized. “On Curacao, it is a well-known phenomenon that there are buildings with a public function that cannot perform their task properly because the indoor climate is inadequate and they do not sufficiently facilitate meetings. Great made this possible for the new hospital,” Lyongo explains.
Once the contract was awarded, the road to the final result was complex. A project of this magnitude had never been realized before on Curacao. In addition, this new hospital meant an enormous change for the staff and other users, in terms of the move and a new working and recovery environment. This sometimes met with resistance, however the design was well received due to the designers’ vision and powers of persuasion.
The design puts the patient, staff and visitor first. From the start, it was clear to the design team that the hospital had to become a hospital ‘di nos’. In addition, there was a strong team that believed in the design and knew how to convey this with enthusiasm and conviction at every step along the way. An important milestone in that process was convincing UNESCO to include the hospital in the World Heritage site.
Input from focus groups
The design for the hospital came from experts, but also focus groups with healthcare professionals were also able to deliver their input for the design at key stages. “Very important,” according to hospital director Gilbert Martina. “Care in the Netherlands is very different from care in Curacao. Here there is a high demand, there are many complex patients and a large patient population with diabetes. We don’t have any other kind of care, which means that many people with a request for help come directly to our Emergency Department. This kind of knowledge was essential to give the right solution to these problems.”
This project is an example of modern Caribbean architecture for hospitals. Watch the latest video of Curacao Medical Center exterior and interior here. Click here to see more videos about this project. Or read more about the CMC in the brochure.