In an inspiring example of humanitarian architecture, Kliment Halsband Architects teamed up with Mount Sinai Surgery in New York to create the Mount Sinai Kyabirwa Uganda Surgical Facility, a prototype for an independent, self-sustaining ambulatory surgical facility. According to the architects, roughly 5 billion people lack any form of safe or affordable surgery, leading to millions of deaths annually worldwide. In response, the architects created a modular, easily replicable surgical facility to provide ambulatory surgical procedures for underserved populations in resource-poor regions.

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brick building with wavy roof

Located in Kyabirwa, a rural village near the equator in Uganda, the Mount Sinai Kyabirwa Uganda Surgical Facility is located on a site that originally lacked potable water, reliable electricity, internet or adequate sanitary facilities. To keep construction simple, the architects used a modular and minimally invasive design inspired by locally available materials. Taking advantage of the area’s abundance of red clay, the architects used locally sourced and fired bricks and cladding tiles for the main structure and topped it with a wavy roof reminiscent of the nearby White Nile.

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stone courtyard covered with a solar panel roof
wood benches in white room with blue patterned covers over the windows

Uninterrupted power is provided by 75 kWp solar panels installed atop the wavy roof, Li-Lead Acid Hybrid battery storage, an onsite generator and intermittent power from the grid. The team also installed 20 miles of underground cabling with fiberoptic service to provide critical internet connection for telemedicine links to Mount Sinai Surgery in New York, where doctors provide advanced surgical consultation and real-time operating room video conferencing. Gravity tanks with a filter and sterilization system store well water and intermittently available town water on-site, while water from a graywater system is recycled for toilet flushing and irrigation. The building relies primarily on natural ventilation and is not air conditioned with the exception of the operating rooms.

brick building with wavy roof
aerial view of brick building with wavy, solar-powered roof

“The primary reason for the limited availability of surgical treatments in underserved parts of the world is the belief that surgery is either too expensive or too complicated to be broadly available,” reads the project’s client statement. “We believe that surgical treatments are essential to building healthy communities worldwide and that surgical therapies need not be complex or expensive. This model is built around developing an independent, self-sustaining facility capable of providing surgical treatments in resource-poor areas.”

+ Kliment Halsband Architects

Photography by Bob Ditty and Will Boase via Kliment Halsband Architects