Elisa Carter: “Wanica Health Centre – the pride for every Surinamese”
On a sunny, almost-like Surinam Friday afternoon, somewhere in the middle of the Netherlands Elisa Carter looks back with enthusiasm at the period in which the design for the Wanica Health Center was realized. “I was asked by the Surinamese government to reactivate a stalled project in a short time. I therefore needed a party which was able to translate ‘the Surinamese model’ into a building.” Elisa Carter, who has worked with architects before since 1984 and has performed governance tasks in several Dutch hospitals including Rotterdam’s Erasmus Medical Center, challenged us to come up with an innovative plan.
Despite the tight time constraints we did not immediately start with sketching, but we instead began with just asking a series of questions first. “I really doubt if they are excited about their job”, Elisa Carter wondered, but afterwards she very much appreciated this approach of the challenge by asking many questions first. “That was very professional, these questions were very necessary and stimulated me to find out what we really wanted.”
During some workshops held in Paramaribo with those who were directly involved in the project, the real meaning of the Surinamese model was “discovered”. “You have the important skills of good listening and with your knowledge and experience you also have a great ability to translate our desires into a design”.
During the presentation held after a few weeks, everyone seemed to be very excited. “You have done a ground-breaking task and it is formally approved by the entire government and the Advisory Board of the President. I really don’t let myself become convinced quite easily (when it comes to my profession), but this was a combination of everything: modern, innovative, sustainable, a community-like setting and good logistics. On top of that, I generally do not like something modern, but as soon I am convinced I will keep my mouth shut and that is what happened.
The design represented the sky high ambition to become the best hospital in the Caricom region: the pride for every Surinamese “.