Roatán Island lies around 35 miles off the coast of Honduras, and is home to a population of some 100,000 people—yet its outdated hospital has only 38 beds. According to Dr. Raymond Cherrington, a family physician at the hospital, this means that there are sometimes three patients in a single bed, creating a situation that is not only uncomfortable but hazardous as close proximity heightens the risk of infection. But, with support from non-profit Global Healing and architecture firm HKS, 27 environmental design students at Texas A&M have created seven proposals for a new, larger facility that is designed to suit the needs of doctors and patients alike, while addressing the particular needs of the Honduran climate.
Twenty-seven architecture students, drawn from a design for health studio and an undergraduate environmental design course at Texas A&M University, collaborated on the project to design a new hospital for Roatán Island. In what is described as an “intensive” process, the students spent three days in conversation with three of the existing hospital’s most experienced physicians—Raymond Cherington, Patrick Connell and Howard Gruber—discussing the needs of the new facility.
The physicians continued to work closely with the architecture students as the semester progressed, holding weekly Skype meetings to consult as the students’ designs developed. In addition, the students were provided with an experienced guiding hand by Ronald L. Skaggs, chairman emeritus of HKS, and Joseph G. Sprague, HKS senior vice president and director of health facilities.
The seven resulting design proposals create a 55 bed hospital on a 60,000 square foot site, which leaves room for future expansion. In addition to creating more inpatient beds, the new facility will house a laboratory, imaging and surgical suites, labor and delivery rooms and an intensive care unit. There is also space for adequate parking and a helipad adjacent to the emergency room on the site.
All of the proposals utilize local materials in their construction, and particular attention has been paid to accommodating—and making the greatest use of—the local climate. Slanted roofs provide run-off for rainwater during the Island’s brutal rainy season, while the buildings are angled to harness trade winds for natural ventilation. Emergency generators can provide power to the hospital at all times, regardless of frequent power outages on the Island.
According to Texas A&M, the proposals will now be shown to potential donors, and if all goes smoothly, organizers hope that Roatán Island will open the doors to its new hospital in 2017.