Our Gallery at One Market just set up twelve new exhibits that come under the heading of Design in the Public Interest. These exhibits feature products, places, and processes where design is used for common good instead of monetary profit. In a series of twelve blog articles over the next few weeks, I thought I would pick them off one at a time. The first five I covered were:
- See Better to Learn Better Exhibit
- Laboratory to Learn Exhibit
- Reclaiming Public Space Exhibit
- Making Sanitation Safe Exhibit
- A Platform Worth Spreading Exhibit
With the United States election over and the President's reelection, what this country could use now is a little more healing. Let's focus on that topic. Our next exhibit is A Building That Heals.
- The New York Times: Dignifying Design
- Architizer: Architects, You Can Help Save The World! See 5 Remarkable Projects From New Autodesk Exhibition
- treehugger: Mass Design Uses Local Materials, Simple Technologies to Build Modern Hospital in Rwanda
In 2007, Harvard graduate student Michael Murphy approached Dr. Paul Farmer, a celebrated global health advocate, after a lecture on campus. An architect-in-training, Murphy was eager to learn which architecture firms Farmer's organization, Partners in Health, was working with as it pursued its mission of bringing modern health care to impoverished people around the world. Murphy was stunned by the doctor's response: The celebrated global health leader, featured in the 2003 book Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder, known for establishing health clinics from Haiti to Kazakhstan, had never worked with an architect.
Fast-forward to January 2011, when a world-class hospital opened its doors in rural Rwanda, bringing health care to a district of 400,000 people. The 150-bed, 60,000-square-foot Butaro Hospital was designed by, you guessed it, Murphy and a crew of other audacious recent graduates.
The hospital, and the process by which it was constructed, is notable for many reasons -- not the least of which is that these young architects, who had never before designed a building, moved to Rwanda at Farmer's invitation, founded a nonprofit called MASS (it initially stood for Mobilizing Architecture to Serve Society), and created a building that transcends many of their professional predecessors' wildest dreams.
Butaro Hospital raises the bar on "local." MASS used volcanic rock from the nearby Virunga Mountains, reducing costs by roughly two-thirds. They also hired 12,000 local people, who dug the foundation by hand, laid intricate volcanic rock walls, and constructed almost all other details. Murphy explains, "We learned that a locally built job force is like a giant educational and economic engine. It was a profound lesson that puts into question our increasingly prefabricated methodologies of construction in the U.S."
Here is a compelling statistic:
- At any time, over 1.4 million people worldwide suffer from infectious complications acquired in hospitals.
MASS also worked with infectious disease specialists from Partners in Health and the Harvard Medical School to innovate new ways of naturally ventilating the hospital, reducing the transmission of airborne disease. Most notably, they installed fans with diameters of 24 feet and positioned beds to face out toward louvered windows -- creating a constant circulation of fresh air and healing natural light.
Murphy sums it up: "Of course we were completely naive about how to build a hospital, or even how to build an architecture firm. But that naïveté forced us to dive in, move to Rwanda, and really work closely with the doctors and the community to find the core issues this building needed to address. On the ground, we were able to ask, 'Can a hospital, the facility itself, also heal patients?'"
Thanks to Global Content Manager, Matthew Tierney, and Brand Marketing Manager, Grace Hom, for content contained in this blog article. This is just one of the many exhibits in the gallery at One Market in San Francisco. The gallery is open to the public on Wednesdays from 12 pm to 5 pm, and admission is free. Visit us.
Healing is alive in the lab.