Texas A&M environmental design students presented five design concepts for two state-of-the-art hospitals proposed as part of a giant medical complex to be located in an underserved region of Nigeria at an April 28 event attended by Nigerian investors and dignitaries at Legacy Hall in the Jon L. Hagler Center.
The architecture-for-health studio project, including designs for a an 800-bed adult specialty hospital and a 400-bed mother/child hospital, was undertaken during the spring 2014 semester in collaboration with HKS Inc., the Dallas-based international architecture firm that is working with Thompson & Grace Investments of Nigeria to develop a world-class 100-acre medical service and research complex to be known as the Thompson & Grace Medical City.
A master plan for the multi-use development, created in fall 2013 by three Texas A&M landscape architecture students directed by Chanam Lee, associate professor of landscape architecture and presented to investors last February, also includes a medical school and research institute, conference center, buildings for office and residential use, an elementary school and an artisan village.
According to the World Bank, Nigeria suffers from severely inadequate health services, a shortage of qualified health professionals and no medical research infrastructure; shortcomings that precipitate a high infant mortality rate and a 52-year life expectancy, 17th lowest among the world’s nations.
Thompson & Grace Investments is building the medical city about 12 miles from Uyo, capital of Nigeria’s Akwa Ibom State, to address the regions’ health care needs while also providing commercial opportunities for the economically depressed area. Two of the company's executives, Issac Amos and Otobong Amos, are scheduled to attend the April 28 event.
The five dual-hospital concepts unveiled at the April 28 gathering were designed by five, four-student teams in a studio directed by George J. Mann, the Ronald L. Skaggs, FAIA Endowed Professor of Health Facilities Design. The presentations included drawings as well as architectural models.
“In developing their designs, student had to consider Nigeria’s climate and culture, as well as the leading causes of illness and death in the country — malaria, lower respiratory infections, HIV/AIDS, and diarrheal diseases,” said Mann.
To contend with the 100 inches of annual rainfall in the region, students’ designed well-sealed buildings with superlative rooftop drainage. The high temperatures of equatorial Africa were addressed by designs that allow hot air to collect between the building and its shielding envelope and vent through the top.
“The project presented us with design challenges that ranged from extreme tropical climate conditions to various cultural considerations,” said Austin Ash of Lubbock and Frankie Volpicalla. “The project will stand out in our undergraduate career.”
In developing their design solutions, the students were advised by representatives from the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, architects at HKS including Ronald L. Skaggs, HKS chairman emeritus and an adjunct professor of architecture at Texas A&M, and Joseph G.Sprague, HKS principal and senior vice president.
The studio gave students an opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives, said two members of the class.
“Playing a role in bettering health is exciting not only because it's helping people but also because it will ultimately help the world," said Hillary Cowan and Lindsey Dusek.
The partnership between Thompson & Grace and Texas A&M was initiated by Macharia Waruingi, a faculty research fellow at the university’s Center for Health Systems & Design and head of the Ustawi Research Institute, which advances the creation of products for health and human development with a focus on emerging economies and developing nations in Africa. As a CHSD fellow, Waruingi was in a unique position to match the investors’ needs with the health design expertise at the Texas A&M College of Architecture.
“We want to reach all the people with this facility,” said Waruingi, adding that Thompson and Grace aim to have the hospitals operating by 2017.