This project won the 2013 Architizer A+ Jury Award in the Architecture + Collaboration category. See the full list of winners here.
When a team from MASS Design Group arrived in Rwanda in 2008 to design a hospital for the rural region of Burera, they heard a story about a clinic that had sickened its charges in an outbreak of tuberculosis. Poor ventilation meant the disease could spread easily between patients, many of whom were cooped up together in hallways. "We said, 'So why have hallways?'" Alan Ricks, a founding partner of MASS Design Group, recalls in a video about the project.
Working with experts at the nonprofit health care organization Partners in Health, the architects designed the new Butaro Hospital to minimize the spread of disease. The project—which took the Jury Prize in the Architecture + Collaboration category of the A+ Awards—serves a rural population of 400,000 who lacked a hospital until the building opened in 2011. In the process, local construction workers learned a new masonry technique using an untapped resource: volcanic rock!
Rather than design a traditional ward with beds on either side of a corridor, the architects broke up the hospital into single-loaded spaces with plenty of passive ventilation and (thanks to the region's temperate climate) some outdoor services set up in Butaro's courtyards. They also changed the layout of beds to give patients better views and more privacy: Instead of being relegated to the perimeter of an open room, patients face the windows from their positions along a half-built wall.
According to Partners in Health, the hospital's construction created 2,000 jobs. Together, the designers and local masons found a use for the volcanic rock scattered over Burera's farmland. The community had considered the rock a nuisance, but the team figured out how to chisel it so that the pieces could fit together to form visually mortarless walls. "What's exciting is that the style is valued and now marketable," writes MASS Design Group junior associate Holly Jacobson. "[T]hese local masons are now being sought out across the country to build walls 'like those at Butaro.'"
Photos: Iwan Baan