Health Centre in Mali, Guinea

The centre serves the 2,000 inhabitants of the town of Mali and the population of the surrounding areas. It is supported by the Finnish development association and provides medical treatment, outpatient services and maternity facilities. As a major public building, it is also meant to symbolize the importance of health care. The simple, elongated structure is divided into a series of units linked by open covered porches. The central porch is the main entrance and also a gateway to the yard beyond, where various ancillary functions are housed in traditional, circular earth huts with thatched roofs. One of these huts provides accommodation for people who accompany patients to the centre. The eastern porch is the entrance to the maternity unit; the western porch leads to the nurse’s quarters. The traditional “terre stabilisée” method was used in this project. In other words, a small quantity of cement (2 per cent) was added to the earth as a bonding agent to produce building blocks. Although this form of construction requires skill and precision in its execution, the materials are simple and cheap to make and provide an alternative to imported products, which consume precious foreign exchange. Structures of this kind are also thermally efficient. They absorb the heat of the day and give it off at night; and conversely, they store the coolness of the night for the day. The thin roof tiles were produced in a similar way, although the proportion of bonding material was 12 per cent in this case.
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