The hospital is located along the banks of Lake Victoria and treats all children under the age of 18 free of charge. The centre covers an area of 9700 m² and provides the community with 3 operating rooms, 72, hospital beds, including 6 in intensive care and 16 in sub-intensive care, 6 clinics, a radiology unit, a laboratory with a blood bank, a CAT scanner, a pharmacy, accommodation for foreign patients, and an outdoor playground. Most of the energy is supplied by 2500 photovoltaic solar panels on the roof. The hospital is part of an elaborate landscape plan designed by Studio Franco and Simona Giorgetta, which focuses on the natural and sustainable side of the entire project. This means plenty of attention has been given to the gardens that form a natural environmental mitigation system, as well as contributing to the so-called “healing architecture”: a welcoming and well cared for setting has a positive impact on the patient healing process.
Right from the design phase, the hospital was intended to only have limited impact on the surrounding environment and local culture. That is why the architect, Renzo Piano, wanted to build in compliance with local building traditions, opting for the so-called pisé construction technique. This technique uses a compound made of soil, sand, gravel and a little bit of water to prevent cracking during the drying process.
The resulting paste is then compressed in wooden formworks. The clay provides notable heat inertia keeping the building’s temperature and humidity levels constant, but it cannot provide adequate mechanical resistance or sufficient resistance to rainfall.
The Mapei Group came to the project’s aid by sending its own technicians on-site. After sending some samples of material to Mapei’s R&D laboratories, special latest-generation binding agents were developed to make this technique more versatile and durable. Mapei’s help involved sending six containers of admixture to the building site from Italy, as well as formworks to shape the rammed earth. Applying a highly innovative technology to an ancient building technique made it possible to construct the hospital walls sustainably, guaranteeing versatility and durability. Using a material so widely available locally like clay also reduced the project’s environmental impact.
As Mapei’s CEO, Veronica Squinzi, pointed out: “We are proud that our research, materials and technical support were able to contribute to this project that embodies many of the values Mapei believes in: hard work, excellence, sustainability and beauty. We hope this innovative solution can be used for building other local facilities to help the community to grow”.