Kaedi is located in a remote sector of Mauritania, near the border of Senegal. Its hospital serves a rural population. The extension adds 120 beds to the hospital, an operating theatre complex, paediatric, surgical and ophthalmic departments, a maternity and general medical unit, a laundry, kitchens, storerooms, a garage, and a workshop. The architects were not to replicate the earlier hospital's conventional concrete-frame buildings; their brief was to house the planned facilities by developing new low-cost techniques of construction employing local materials and skills, that would be applicable to other building types within the region. All workmen were local, trained on the site to perform the new techniques. Although the use of brick is not a part of the local vernacular, the architects chose to develop a structural vocabulary of hand-made brick, fired in kilns built near the source of clay. The structural repertoire that emerged, after on-site experimentation with a number of domes and vaults, included simple domes, complex domes, conventional half-domes, pod-shaped spaces, and self-supporting pointed arches which form winding circulation corridors. The overall plan for the hospital extension was derived from these forms. Adequate natural light enters the complex through glass blocks set into the brickwork and from interstices left between the brick arches. The response of both doctors and patients has been positive, and the community takes pride in the fact that the medical facility was built by their own people. The jury believes that the innovative construction techniques introduced may have wide significance, particularly since the successful functioning of the hospital should encourage similar initiatives elsewhere.
Source: Aga Khan Trust for Culture