Renzo Piano had this to say about the project for the Centre for Excellence in Paediatric Surgery being built in Entebbe, on the shores of Lake Victoria, 35 km from the Ugandan capital of Umpala: “When Gino Strada asked me to take part in EMERGENCY’s new challenge, I didn’t think twice about it, I immediately said yes! This new hospital will be a model of medical excellence, environmental sustainability, energetic independence and harmonious space distribution.” Building work began in February 2017 and is expected to finish in late 2019, with the hospital due to open in early 2020.
The design, conceived by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop – its first African project – in collaboration with international NGO EMERGENCY technical office and Studio TAMassociati, features in an installation dedicated to the Salone del Mobile.Milano in the reception area in Pavilion 9/11. This particular model of the hospital was one of 16 design projects selected for the exhibition Renzo Piano: the Art of Making Buildings, at London’s Royal Academy, which closed in January.
The facility has been designed to be surrounded by nature and trees, and will also act as a training centre for young doctors and nurses from Uganda and the surrounding countries. The building is made of rammed earth, a traditional technique using raw earth that ensures thermal inertia to keep both temperature and humidity constant, and it will be equipped with 2600 solar photovoltaic panels that will satisfy part of its energy requirements.
The Centre, on a plot of land donated by the local government, will cater for Ugandan patients and children with surgical needs from all over Africa. The need for this Centre of Excellence in Paediatric Surgery was stressed by Health Ministers from all 11 countries, belonging to the ANME African Network of Medical Excellence, set up by the EMERGENCY in 2010 to promote the construction of medical systems of excellence and provide high standards of free healthcare in the African continent. The Entebbe hospital is the network’s second facility, following the Salam Surgical Centre in Khartoum, Sudan. The World Health Organisation has confirmed that the country still has a long way to go to meet targets on lowering the infant mortality rate: more than 30% of children under 5 suffer from malnutrition or undernourishment and the infant mortality rate for this age group is 138 per 1,000 live births.
“Millions of children die every year simply because they have no access to health care. Lack of resources? Lack of interest for the sufferings of part of the population? Lack of social responsibility from the governments? Or all of the above? Whatever the reason, the question remains: should we continue to tolerate this scandal or should we improve the life of millions of fellow human beings”, said Gino Strada, Founder of EMERGENCY.
The answer, from doctor and architect alike, was a given.