A Designmatters in ArtCenter sponsored project for Coaniquem, a children hospital based in Chile. The project include a 2–week research trip to Coaniquem Campuses in Santiago, Antofagasta, and Puerto Montt. Together with Environmental Designer, Helene Huang, we created a healing outdoor space in Antofagasta Campus. Alongside the clinic, they will build a Senior Center, Church, Dormitory, and Cafeteria. We designed a masterplan that will bring the entire campus together like a village. Field Research in Antofagasta with Coaniquem patients and staff. We created a small exercise where the patients can imagine a new Coaniquem.
Instead of a rigid division, we imagine a new Coaniquem campus serving as a village. Alongside the clinic, Coaniquem will build a Senior Center, Church, Dormitory, and Cafeteria. Our regular villagers include seniors, burnt children, parents and Coaniquem staff. The Healing Garden creates outdoor spaces with sustainable structures to support the healing of young burn patients in a shared outdoor space, with older adults living in senior housing, where each group can contribute and engage as a community. The project is planned to be implemented in Antofagasta, Chile.
The Healing Garden’s environmentally responsible and culturally considered approach integrates native sensory landscape, indigenous Chilean design principles, and inclusive, accessible spatial design. We prioritize the safety of the children from injuries and exposure to direct sunlight and also the community.Across the cafeteria, the patients and the community can share an accessible community garden to grow their favorite food and flowers. Multiple heights of plant beds are made with 6 inches steps to accommodate different ages of people who will tend the garden. The plant beds are designed to be wheelchair–friendly with ramps so that patients or the elderly can have easy access to the garden independently.
Coming out from the clinic, patients could grab a bite in between their appointments at the juice bar. A series of animal friends are accompanying burned children. As you enjoy the local fruits and sit on the peacock seating - you now have become a peacock and ready to meet the other friends!
Right behind the juice bar, a non-directive playground is built for the children to have some time away from their parents - it’s a kids-level green tunnel where they can runthrough, do rock climbing and talk with other kids on top of the mountain. Local drought tolerant plants and fountain grass with bright colors bring colors to the desert oasis.
The nest is a central pavilion connecting the church, school, senior center and restaurant. With double layered fabric shading, burned children will be fully protected from the sunlight. A labyrinth of bird’s nest in the center is for kids to play and dance. Swings and seats with multiple heights are around the nest surrounded with bougainvillea vines.
Cantaremos which means “we will sing” in Spanish is created as a sign of empowerment for the burned children. In this font, children will be able to pass a message of encouragement to other patients who visit Coaniquem. The custom font is created as a stencil so it can be accessible for the children in different forms such as writing tools, indoor and outdoor signages, interactive games, and print materials.
The Poetry Jenga is inspired by a Chilean poet, Gabriel Mistral, in her poem “Give Me Your Hand”. By having a game to play with in the waiting area, the children will feel at ease about their appointment. Even to engage in a game of Jenga with the staff or doctors in Coaniquem.
The flower hopscotch is created for some patients who prefer to engage in physical activities or to be in an open space to lessen their anxiety, the game is inspired by the desert bloom at the atrium. The patients can engage with other patients near the clinic.
The vertical poem planter system, designed by Helené Huang, are constructed with simple steel tubes and can be installed both indoor and outdoor. The panels project shades of a Chilean poem by Gabriel Mistral to empower kids through their culture.
The animal friends will always be there for you throughout the journey, since the patient steps foot at Coaniquem’s gate until the last appointment they’ll have. When the patients enter the campus, they will be greeted by an interactive outdoor mural that will show the characters in the Healing Tree story. “Hola!” The cool color palette to welcome the patient is to calm them as they enter the space. At the end of their visit, the animal friends would say “Chao!” as the children leave the village celebrating their bravery with a bright color palette.
The modular panel system is designed for easy installation. Each panel is made of recyclable aluminum sheet. We use Pink Muhly as a natural barrier to keep children from touching the aluminum panels.
Thank you Stella Hernandez, Penny Herscovitch and Dan Gottlieb for inspiring us and being great teachers for this project.