The Kaedi Hospital extension in Mauritania is one of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture-winners, which sets a good example of ‘in-between architecture’ – both Islamic and modern and neither explicitly – then it constitutes one type, one example and style from which to learn.
The architect’s brief was to build an affordable extension to the hospital that would house facilities for preventive medicine. It was also to serve as a new form of public building which could be replicated in the future. Thus, the brief included ‘low-cost’ techniques of construction that would be of economic and practical benefit for the population and use local materials and skills.
This master piece consists of a brick dome construction reminiscent of several traditional techniques, some of which are common in Muslim cultures – and modern hospital technology, western planning and Expressionist aesthetics; but all of these antithetical traditions are extended, distorted and combined in a unique post-modern hybrid.
The innovative language of architecture includes hemispherical domes, parabolic domes, doughnut-plan domes, over or tear-shaped spaces, pod-spaces, and an overall petal morphology organised roughly on a curved, branching plan.
In addition, there is something transcendent in the handling of internal space and light – perhaps it is the use of simple means in an entirely fresh way.
In short, this hospital is harmonious without being clichéd, new without fetishising originality, scientific in being based on new techniques, and aesthetic in being consistently self-similar – petal-like
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