Tambacounda Hospital is the largest hospitals in eastern Senegal. It serves the city’s 80,000 inhabitants and more than a million people from the region. Twenty doctors treat 20,000 patients per year under very difficult conditions. The region suffers from poor public health, with life expectancy ten years lower than Senegal’s average and one of the highest infant and child mortality rates in the country. In 2017, Manuel Herz Architects were chosen to design a new Maternity and Paediatric Clinic for Tambacounda Hospital, aiming to improve this situation.
The building has a curvilinear volume, that is as long as possible to create many social spaces, and as thin as possible to react to the harsh climate. The curvilinear shape is a direct reaction to the existing circular buildings on the hospital site. The new clinic embraces these buildings, curves around them, thereby creating several new exterior courtyards, and allowing all existing trees on the site to remain.
Patients often arrive at the hospital with their families, and stay for several days, when they travel from the rural parts of eastern Senegal. Hence, it is important to offer an abundance of social spaces, where people can linger, wait for appointments with medical staff, and spend their time. Along the length of the corridor, different kinds of waiting spaces are offered.
The thinness is a direct response to the climate. We created a building that does not need air-conditioning (apart from the operation blocks and intensive care units), hence with a much reduced energy footprint. The corridor has rooms only to one side, while the other side features a perforated brick wall that allows for wind to cross-ventilate all rooms in the building. This brise-soleil keeps the sun and rain out, and lets air move laterally through the building. The temperature differences between slightly hotter and (because of shading) slightly cooler areas, creates air movement. The building is therefore its own climate machine, creating a local micro-climate that is more temperate than its surrounding. All electricity is supplied by a solar panel array.
The design was developed in close collaboration with the doctors hospital staff, and with the local contractor and engineers. All building materials are sourced from eastern Senegal, and the region of Tambacounda. All builders are from Tambacounda and the surrounding villages. Simultaneously with the hospital, we have realised a number of additional projects, such as a school building that grew out of a test-facade for the perforated bricks, in the village of Sare Sidi 50km south of Tambacounda, a play ground just next to the hospital, staff housing with ten apartments that will be built later this year, as well as two kindergartens in the rural area. This has ensured that the hospital is fully embedded in a local context, is never seen as a foreign entity, and supports the local population not only medically, but socially, culturally and economically as well.