New York City is considered one of the most forward-thinking cities in the world – so you would think that it would be at the forefront of innovation when it comes to childbirth. But did you know that the Big Apple actually ranks as the worst city in the U.S. in terms of maternal-related mortality? In order to address this very concerning issue and the fact that there is is a serious dearth of mother/child-friendly birthing centers in NYC, designer Kristi Bernick designed a Brooklyn facility for natural childbirth called Deserved Deliveries. This design project explores innovative methods of maternal care that place emphasis on combining midwifery and obstetrics into one cohesive and comfortable environment – an idea that could help turn New York’s abysmal track record around.
The proposed location for the birthing center is on the Gowanus Canal, and the design ambitiously aims to regenerate the surrounding area and clean the polluted waterway in addition to providing natural childbirth options for New Yorkers. Inspired by the site, Bernick wanted to create a calm and minimalist interior architecture that complements the area’s industrial feel. Picking up inspiration from the zipper, of all things, she studied its components and functions in order to achieve architectural elements that would symbolize the idea of midwifery and obstetrics coming together as one.
The interior of the facility is an inviting puzzle of connected rooms, separated yet stitched together by a series of light wells that penetrate the entire space with natural daylight. The landscaped back garden integrates streams from the canal into the building along with ribbons of planters. Interconnected forms provides continuous communication between the nurturing and homey elements of the environment and the more sterile/mechanical hospital-like spaces.
When expecting families and visitors enter through the center door, they’re immediately welcomed into an inviting lobby space. The first floor also has a cozy children’s play room, a pharmacy and a gift shop.
The second floor is more private and consists of birthing rooms, maternity suites, a nursery, nurse’s stations, a NICU and an operation room. The birthing rooms each have an AVE Birthing Bed by the Czech Republic company, BORCAD and a birthing tub called Waterbirth Vessel, which is designed by Darling Dushinka Gonzalez-Duskin. There is also a gathering area that allows women to mingle with each other and relax by walking and listening and watching organic sounds and visuals.
The private area on the third floor consists of a family waiting area, an exam room, doctors’ work spaces and sleep pods. There is also a library, an education center, a café, an exercise studio, a stroller lock-up, a nursing room and a large restroom that includes training toilets in the more public area – sounds like more than everything you would need to get through your birth comfortably, safely and in style, to boot!
Kristi Bernick would like to give a special thanks to Omar Toro-Vaca and Gregory Marinic for their assistance.