The Mother & Baby Hospital Unit in the Democratic Republic of Congo

White Arkitekter has unveiled its design for a mother and baby unit for the Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Scandinavian firm, White Arkitekter developed a new facility to be built onto the existing hospital, designed to improve the wellbeing for mothers and children. The project was highly commended at WAF 2018 in the Health-Future Project category.

The Panzi Hospital, set up following 20 years of war and devastation, has expanded its focus to treating survivors of sexual violence and serves over 400,000 people. The new unit will replace the overcrowded facilities at Panzi Hospital, which deals with up to 3500 births per year, and aims to reduce the maternal and post-natal mortality rate while providing more positive birth experiences.

The White scheme offers a simple, harmonious design planned along the principles of “healing architecture.” This focus on the relationship between quality design and patient recovery is manifested in easy-to-navigate paths, daylight, privacy, and views of nature. Each unit has private access to green courtyards, while local materials are used where possible. 

The design consists of two components: a single-story intensive care block housing a labor ward and neonatal unit, while a series of seven two-story modular pavilions provide post-birth patient rooms and an outpatient department. The wards are designed to accommodate small units of 8-16 patients, with patient rooms of 1-2 beds. 

"During our work on the feasibility study we have constantly been reminded that architecture can make a major difference. In the long term, we hope to be able to create a model to build healing architecture in developing countries rationally, sustainably and in an economically smart way,"  says Cristiana Caira, Lead Architect at White Arkitekter. 

For the development of the new unit, White collaborated with the Dr. Denis Mukwege, founder of the hospital, and Marie Berg, Professor of the Health Care Sciences at Gothenburg University.

This article was first published in Arch Daily. 

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