- Clients : Les Centres GHESKIO
- Partners : Les Centres GHESKIO, William Penn Foundation, Henry Kimelman Family, Foundation, Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, Barbara Hostetter, Amos Hostetter
- Design Research : Virginia Tech Center for Design Research
- Facade Optimization : Computational design workflow by Jonathan Grinham of SOAS
- Furniture Design : MASS Design Group
- City : Port-au-Prince
- Country : Haiti
Text description provided by the architects. In the months following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, cholera—a curable, preventable disease that had not previously existed in Haiti—struck the tent cities of Port-au-Prince and surrounding hillsides. When the disease broke, Port-au-Prince’s only waste-filtration plant remained closed following the earthquake, while access to clean water and waste treatment programs was limited. This gap in public health infrastructure, paired with general overcrowding and unsanitary conditions in public spaces only hastened the disease’s rapid spread. Les Centres GHESKIO, a Haitian healthcare research, treatment, and training organization, was among the first groups to respond to this outbreak of cholera.
Along with hundreds of healthcare facilities across the country, GHESKIO quickly deployed cholera treatment tents, intended as a short-term response. The tents were difficult to keep sanitary; they were hot in the Haitian climate, deficient at preventing widespread infection, and incapable of providing the human right to dignified healthcare. Dr. Jean William Pape, co-founder of GHESKIO, asked MASS to help create a permanent cholera center. His request was simple and revolutionary: Could the center treat patients with dignity while addressing Haiti’s systemic infrastructural shortcomings?
To reduce the risk of improper waste management, the Cholera Treatment Center was designed to treat waste on-site. The clerestory roof admits natural daylight and diverts rainwater that is stored in underground cisterns, treated, and then used in showers and sinks. The water is also processed for use in Oral Re-hydration Therapy, the primary treatment used to re-hydrate patients recovering from cholera. The facility decontaminates waste using a leaching field combined with anaerobic baffled reactor technology. The center has the capacity to treat more than 250,000 gallons of sewage a year, helping reduce the area’s water-table contamination.
The building was designed to accommodate one hundred patients at a time. Large fans, high ceilings, and a perforated facade help to move air through the facility. The eight thousand apertures were bent by hand, but digitally designed and evaluated to be optimized for daylight, ventilation, and privacy. Because of the need for routine sterilization, all materials were chosen for their durability and infection-resistant properties.
MASS worked with GHESKIO’s vocational training workshops, hiring and training victims of abuse to fabricate custom furniture for the CTC. These purpose-built chairs and cots replaced the army cots that had been repurposed for use in the emergency tents. The bedding fabric of the CTC furniture can be removed during cleaning, allowing them to be safely re-used. While cholera persists in Haiti today, there has been progress. Due to the temporary nature of and funding for the majority of facilities, GHESKIO’s Cholera Treatment Center is one of the only remaining active facilities, now servicing the majority of the city of Port-au-Prince.
[ Photographer website - https://iwan.com/portfolio/gheskio-cholera-treatment-center-haiti-port-au-prince/ ]