- The cost-effective hospital provides a lifeline to local women, and is envisaged as a prototype for Rwanda.
- Passive design and the right technologies ensure the building suits local requirements.
- Health professionals, district officials and the local community were all included in the design process.
The new Ntunga Maternity Centre provides much needed check-ups, screenings, medical education, and childbirth support services to women living in Ntunga; a large rural community close to Rwamagana, the capital of Rwanda’s Eastern Province.
Women who previously had to travel for hours by foot or bicycle to access medical professionals will now be able to visit this clean and safe maternity unit.
We provided pro bono expertise as design consultants on the project, leading on the architecture, masterplanning and MEP (mechanical, electrical and public health) engineering. We worked alongside Engalynx, a UK charity that jointly funded the construction of the centre with the Government of Rwanda. We ran consultation workshops with Rwandan health professionals, district officials and the local community during the design process to create this cost-effective maternity clinic. We also worked closely with the local on-site contractors, Econtec.
The success of this prototype means that the design could go on to be used in other parts of Rwanda, as well as extending the site in Ntunga, as part of a government drive to provide accessible satellite centres for healthcare throughout the country.
An initial public consultation process and workshop with 300 villagers, communicated through means of pictograms and translators, and discussions with the local district and Rwandan medical professionals played a major part in shaping the design. By listening to local midwives, doctors and the people who will use the unit, the team were able to really understand the need and tailor the design to suit.
Key targets developed for the centre were:
• Usability – increase functional internal area
• Architectural – improve movement of people
• Structural – provide seismic support
• Mechanical – internal temperatures, ventilation and daylight provision
• Electrical – lightning protection
• Public health – provision of water services.
These targets were all achieved and post occupancy information is being gathered to assess the building and identify improvements for future developments.
Rwanda sits in a seismically active zone and the maternity centre is one of the first public buildings in the area to be designed to withstand earthquakes and ground tremors. An innovative design makes the building structurally sound without increasing construction cost. Confined masonry topped with a light weight steel frame enabled the single pitch roof design that was so important for natural ventilation. The single pitch design also allows more daylight into the space, and was easier to construct.
The building is also designed to recycle rainwater and provide sufficient natural ventilation and daylight while balancing the internal temperature for mothers and newborn babies. The passive design will make the internal environment more comfortable while reducing energy consumption.
It is a unique building with lots of intelligent innovations. We hope to use these ideas in the future and use this design as a prototype.
Rwanda Ministry of Health
Expectant mothers have been traveling by foot or bicycle during labour and sometimes not reaching the hospital in time. Unsurprisingly, women weren’t using antenatal services as the hospital was too far away, and as a result, many complications went undiagnosed leading to the very sad and avoidable loss of life. This centre will bring vital maternity care to their doorstep and provide much needed facilities to local women.Clare Bristow, Project Director, Arup
It is refreshing to finally see a building (in Rwanda) that actually can function.Rex Wong, Director, Health Management and Leadership, Yale University, Human Resources in Health, Rwanda