Butaro District Hospital, Burera District, Northern Province, Rwanda, 2011
The Burera District in the Northern Province of Rwanda was one of the last two districts in the country without a functioning hospital. The population lacked access to a single doctor. Consequently, Burera District had very poor health indicators compared to other areas of Rwanda. MASS Design Group was brought in by Partners In Health to help plan and design a state-of-the-art facility that would help reverse these conditions.
MASS Design Group and PIH’s partnership created a holistic model of architecture that choreographed the process of construction to employ, educate, and empower the local community.
The new facility, which opened in January 2011, mitigates and reduces the transmission of airborne disease through various innovative systems, including overall layout, patient and staff flow, and natural cross-ventilation.
In Butaro, we used a combination of natural ventilation and low-maintenance mechanical units such as ceiling and exhaust fans to create an effective mixed-mode system. Through the combination of UVGI lights deactivating germs in the air, stack ventilation drawing air hrough the room, and large fans mixing air within the space, we created a series of complementary systems that operate to increase airflow and decrease infection rates. All of this is accomplished with very little energy input and limited maintenance.
In a typical hospital ward, patient beds line the perimeter of an open room. Calibrated for efficient use of space and speed of medical professionals doing rounds, beds line the walls and the center is left free for circulation. While this is efficient and logical, we were struck when we saw patients lying in beds looking at rooms full of other sick patients. We inverted the layout, ensuring windows on both sides of every ward, to take advantage of the beautiful Rwandan views. This decision provided natural lighting, cross-ventilation, and comforting views of the landscaped courtyard or surrounding mountains.
For the Butaro District Hospital, our partners chose the most strategic hilltop in the Burera region in order to maximize views and airflow. The site held symbolic and economic implications as well: the hilltop was previously occupied by a Rwandan Military camp. The military camp agreed to relocate for the hospital to be built, acknowledging Rwanda’s shift towards investment in human capital, health, and education.