The 14 hectare Opera Village of Laongo lies approximately an hour away by car from the capital city, Ouagadougou. The construction of an infirmary within the perimeter of the Opera Village is designed to improve basic health care for the local population.
The infirmary is known as the “Centre de Santé et de Promotion Social” or “CSPS”, which translates as “Centre for health and social advancement”. It will have the facilities to provide several days’ care, although patients will have to be transferred to a hospital in more serious cases.
A winding path to the south west leads down the hill from the opera house towards the infirmary. The descent offers views across the savanna. Then the roofs of the infirmary come into view, inspired by the outlines of two hills on the horizon.
The infirmary at Laongo is divided into three parts, arranged around the central waiting room. There is a dentistry section, a gynecology and obstetrics section and a general health unit. To provide a pleasant environment for the community, visitors and families of patients, several courtyards with shaded seating areas have been included. Each building has an inner courtyard, in addition to two large courtyards on the site. The entire building complex is surrounded by an external wall, although in some parts the wall is made up of the buildings themselves.
Adjoining the dentist’s surgery are a reception room, pharmacy and store room. The gynecology unit encompasses a waiting room, an operating theatre and a ward for 8 patients, as well as the head midwife’s office and a supervisor’s room with its own bathroom. The general health section consists of an examination room, a 9 bed ward, the head doctor’s office and a room, also with its own bathroom, to accommodate a supervisor.
The window design emerged from the consideration that the view from the patient’s bed should be as pleasant as possible. This sparked the idea to set the windows like picture frames. Each frame gives the viewer a focus on a different part of the scenery outside. To this end, three different modules of varying sizes were developed, and each window was individually inserted according to its angle and composition (with a fly screen, glass or metal door). The windows in the walls of the courtyards were turned around so that the conical openings allow the viewer to see in from the outside.
As with the Opera Village itself, a priority was to use local materials such as clay and laterite stone. Most of the walls are made of a double layer of BTC bricks (brique de terre comprimée – compressed clay bricks). The addition of cement allowed the quantity of water in the BTC bricks to be significantly higher, but the walls still required protection against the rain. Wide overlapping roofs would have been a solution, but this would have been incompatible with the design for the outer walls and prohibitively expensive. Therefore the outer walls have two layers. With an external layer of hollow concrete bricks is coated with a render using clay, a protective roof is no longer necessary. As before, BTC bricks were used on the inside. On the outside the ground was paved with laterite stone.
Drainage from the roofs takes place through gutters, which capture rain water and pour it into a gravel pit. Girders made of rebar steel were welded for the roof, and support the sheet of corrugated tin. The undersides of the roof and the suspended ceilings above the walkways have been decorated with eucalyptus wood. This locally grown tree, originally from Australia, is usually used as firewood as it dries out the soil and provides little shade.
Due to the sloping gradient to the East, a 60cm step has been cut into the site.
The CSPS is due to open in mid 2013.