Hi Cristiana Caira, lead architect for the Panzi Hospital feasibility study

Since September 2016, White has been working on a feasibility study for a new mother and child unit at Panzis Hospital in Bukavu, DR Congo. The hospital is run by the human rights defender, Nobel Peace Prize candidate and 2014 Sakharov Prize winner Dr Denis Mukwege.

Left to right: Dr Denis Mukwege, Saga Karlsson (White Arkitekter), Tommy Sandén (Mukwege Foundation), Annika Sandén and Cristiana Caira (White Arkitekter) at the presentation of the feasibility study in Oslo, spring 2017.

Left to right: Dr Denis Mukwege, Saga Karlsson (White Arkitekter), Tommy Sandén (Mukwege Foundation), Annika Sandén and Cristiana Caira (White Arkitekter) at the presentation of the feasibility study in Oslo, spring 2017.

What made you engage in the Panzi Hospital project?

“Primarily to work in a project that really makes a difference in a part of the world where violence against women is a major problem. We can apply our knowledge and expertise to contribute to the efforts to help vulnerable women and improve the conditions for childbirth in Congo.

What makes the Panzi project an obvious choice for White to engage in?

“As architects, we can contribute to a better world through our profession. We are not teachers or doctors, but we can design buildings and cities that strengthen democratic processes. Working towards a more equitable society through “democratic architecture” fits well into White’s core values. Health is one dimension and politics another, and when we contribute to the development of Panzi Hospital, we also support Dr. Mukwege’s work for democracy – it will be a kind of “double statement”.

How has it been to work with Dr Mukwege and his team?

“Of course, it’s very motivating to work with Denis Mukwege. He is a strong personality who has received recognition worldwide, not only for his medical expertise but also for his political commitment to human rights and democracy, focusing primarily on women in Africa. To work with people who risk their lives every day for something good feels very meaningful.

 

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What’s the next step?

“At the moment, the Mukwege Foundation is in a fundraising phase to secure the financing for the development of the hospital. We are pleased that we’ve been asked to take the project to the next step in collaboration with local architects once the financing is in place. The management of a project such as this is best done on site – it’s local architects and builders who are familiar with local conditions, standards and materials. We will take on a supporting role to ensure that the ideas from the feasibility study are maintained and further developed.

The feasibility study has been carried out by White in collaboration with Panzi Hospital, University of Gothenburg, WSP, Art of Life and Birth and the Center for Health Architecture at Chalmers.

Read more on our project Panzi Hospital.