Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery
AKAA/Cemal Emden

Salam Cardiac Surgery Centre

Studio Tamassociati como Arquitectos


The Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery in Khartoum, Sudan, has received a 2013 Aga Khan Award for Architecture, one of the most prestigious prizes in the field.

In selecting the Centre - conceived, planned, and built by the Italian architecture firm tamassociati and commissioned by an Italian independent NGO - the Award’s Master Jury remarked that “the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery champions the vision and resilience of all involved in delivering a responsible, efficient and inspiring model of health services…. Intimately linked to surrounding nature, the ‘self- build’ project facilitates an environment of clarity and healing, while providing the fundamental human right of health, free of charge to all…. The compact state-of-the-art hospital also provides an exemplary prototype for the region as well as for the field”.

The Centre meets the high technical demands of a hospital with complex functions, including three operating theatres, while providing a number of eco-friendly solutions to common problems. Mixed modes of ventilation and natural light enable all spaces to be homely and intimate.

“The project utilizes economical and accessible materials, but the design is focused on detailing the places critical to human experience and performance. This strategy is not only an innovative, universal approach to architecture, but also astounding in that its world-class quality, standard of excellence, and beauty is achieved in such a difficult place. The project achieves poetic presence through a clear vision, without compromising excellence”.

The Centre is built as a pavilion in a garden with both primary buildings organised around large courtyards. Seeing the abandoned containers that had been used to transport construction materials for the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery, the architects were inspired to reuse them to house the Centre’s staff. Ninety 20-foot containers form the accommodation block, each unit consisting of 1.5 containers, with a bathroom and small veranda facing the garden. Seven 40-foot containers are occupied by a cafeteria and services. Insulation is through an ‘onion system’ of 5-centimetre internal insulating panels and an outer skin comprising a ventilated metal roof and bamboo blinds. A solar farm powers the water-heating system.

The Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery, which consists of a hospital with 63 beds, serves over 50,000 patients per year, drawing from a catchment area in eastern Africa of over 300 million people. The welcoming architecture “provides an exemplary prototype for the region as well as for the field”, remarked the Master Jury in their citation.

The compact state-of-the-art hospital has had a tremendous impact, treating significant numbers of patients not only from Sudan and its neighbours, but from a good 23 other countries as well. In addition, people come to train here and, most importantly, its example and vision have encouraged the establishment of further medical centres of excellence in other African countries.

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