Help that Counts: Hospital in Myanmar by a+r Architekten
Stories like this are a ray of hope in the war-torn country of Myanmar: since 2009, the Projekt Myanmar association, whose headquarters are in Filderstadt by Stuttgart, has been collecting donations in order to implement projects in the areas of education, health, water, hygiene and disaster protection in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. As far back as 2014, the association worked with a+r Architekten to complete Thazin High School in Ngwe-Saung, which is located on the country’s west coast. The newly completed hospital stands around 100 km farther north in Magyizin, and offers medical care to the 20,000-odd inhabitants of the surrounding region. Previously, the nearest hospital was a three-hour trip away by moped.
The single-storey new structure stands safely away from floods on a small rise above the town. In the future, it will also serve as a refuge from cyclones and tsunamis. It has twenty hospital beds, a fully equipped operating theatre, a delivery room and a laboratory. Most of the donated equipment arrived from Germany by container as part of an association-led initiative. The patients’ rooms, treatment areas, personnel spaces and dispensary surround an inner courtyard that acts as both a lounge and common room. The waiting area is outdoors; this will reduce the risk of disease transmission. A bit set back from this wing, a second tract featuring a shed roof has an isolation ward and sickrooms for patients with contagious diseases. Moreover, this area has self-catering kitchens, which are common in Myanmar, as well as storage areas, laundry rooms and sanitary facilities.
For the reinforced-concrete skeleton, whose walls have been filled in with bricks, a+r Architekten employed a widespread Burmese building technique. The asymmetrical roof of the main structure is steeper on the inside than on the outside; it is borne by wooden latticed girders. The window openings are closed in with moveable wooden shutters instead of glass: fresh air flows into the rooms between the louvres. Outgoing air flows through ceiling coverings of woven bamboo mats into the roof area before exiting through wooden slats under the ridge of the roof.
In March 2020, mere months before the latest military coup, the new building was inaugurated in Magyizin. The total cost was only 360,000 American dollars. At the same time, the state government then in power financed a residence for doctors and care workers as well. The number of patients has increased since the beginning of the unrest in Myanmar at the beginning of 2021. Now many people, mostly young, are treated here after sustaining injuries in the violent protests.