At this elegant new hospital, the doctors were the designers


Tambacounda Hospital in jap Senegal is a vital public facility. Serving a rural area that spans a number of nations in West Africa, the hospital sees 20,000 sufferers a 12 months. However with little funding and overstretched sources, the hospital’s buildings struggled to maintain up with that demand.

To assist enhance situations there, the design-focused Josef and Anni Albers Foundation funded the design and development of a new maternity and pediatric hospital constructing. Designed professional bono by Basel-based architect Manuel Herz, the curving brick facility was constructed by native contractors for simply $2 million. It’s a major improve.

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[Photo: Iwan Baan/courtesy of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and Le Korsa]

“In lieu of incubators, they were utilizing a discarded fridge tray with odd lightbulbs on prime of it for warmth,” says Nicholas Fox Weber, govt director of the Josef and Anni Albers Basis, of the situations of the hospital earlier than the new constructing. “You didn’t need a lady in early labor to be proper subsequent to a lady in the very late phases of labor who in flip was proper subsequent to a lady with a small child who in flip was subsequent to a lady who had misplaced her child. Everyone was packed in like that.”

“In the future I simply thought, ‘Folks don’t must dwell this means. Can’t we do higher?’” Weber says.


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[Photo: Iwan Baan/courtesy of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and Le Korsa]

He’d been touring to Senegal for almost 20 years, and had created a Senegal-focused arm of the Josef and Anni Albers Basis, known as Le Korsa, to help native doctors in the area with funding and medical provides. When he was visiting the hospital about 4 years in the past, he determined Le Korsa might do way more to assist. So the basis launched a design competitors for a new maternity and pediatric constructing.

One in all the designers invited to take part was Manuel Herz, who has labored in Africa for years. “After I began to take part in the competitors, I had my doubts, to be frank,” Herz says. “Is it right for me as an architect based mostly in Basel or any of the different architects taking part in this competitors to supply a design quote-unquote-solution for a area that they had by no means actually been to, for doctors and sufferers that they had by no means spoken to, for a context that they’re very unfamiliar with?”

As an alternative of proposing a design, Herz proposed a design course of. He and Weber traveled to Tambacounda in order that Herz might communicate instantly with the doctors, medical workers, sufferers, and native officers. After just a few weeks of analysis he returned to his studio. A couple of months later, he returned to the hospital to current his plans, and the native governor held a gathering with the whole workers to assessment Herz’s design.

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[Photo: Iwan Baan/courtesy of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and Le Korsa]

“He requested everyone in the room to problem his or her opinion of the design proposal, and he listened for about two hours to each nurse, each physician, each janitor,” Herz says. “A few of their feedback were extremely exact and sharp, like transfer the door right here, and this area is just not large enough, and we have to change the order of the rooms and so forth.” With that suggestions, Herz refined the design, and the governor accredited the challenge.

The new facility will formally open Might 10. The S-shaped constructing provides 150 hospital beds and child cots on two flooring, with a slim, 23-foot-wide footprint that permits passive cooling in the extraordinarily sizzling local weather. Along with medical areas, the hall consists of quite a few seating and lingering areas, the place households can watch for sufferers and doctors can have conferences.

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[Photo: Iwan Baan/courtesy of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and Le Korsa]

The constructing was constructed with U-shaped bricks that were forged on-site, utilizing a particular design developed by Herz. They’re used on the constructing’s facade as a perforated display screen, permitting cross air flow inside whereas additionally shielding the hospital rooms from rain and solar. To check the design, Herz labored with a neighborhood physician and normal contractor to construct a prototype. It quickly turned greater than that. “The overall contractor constructed the check facade not on the hospital website as I had urged, however he constructed it in a small village 50 kilometers south of Tambacounda. And as a substitute of constructing a wall, he constructed 4 partitions and a roof ,and it turned the village faculty,” Herz says.


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[Photo: Iwan Baan/courtesy of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and Le Korsa]

Throughout the development of the hospital, Herz received married. He and his spouse requested their wedding ceremony visitors to forego presents and as a substitute donate cash to construct a playground in the hospital courtyard—the first playground ever in-built the metropolis. “We wish individuals who go to the hospital to recollect it as a cheerful place,” he says.

The challenge might be displayed at the 2021 Venice Structure Biennale. Weber says Le Korsa is hoping to increase on this work,and is now elevating funds to construct housing for the doctors and medical workers.

Herz additionally designed the properties Le Korsa is hoping to construct. He says that despite the fact that the finances for these tasks is low by worldwide requirements, he didn’t need them to look or really feel low-cost.

“Sure, it’s low-cost, and it’s in a setting that’s perhaps not odd or not on a regular basis, but it surely must have simply pretty much as good an area and in precisely the identical high quality of execution simply as every other challenge in my workplace,” he says.