The Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery is located in Soba, 20 kilometres south of Sudan's capital city, Khartoum. The Centre covers an area of 12,000 sqm indoor, on a lot of land of roughly 40,000 sqm on the banks of the Blue Nile.
To build a first-rate Centre for cardiac surgery in a climate such as Sudan's, with temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius most of the year and frequent sandstorms, the structure must be designed sand-proof, and heat-proof. Innovative cooling, insulation and filtration technologies used at the Salam Centre allowed decreasing significantly the energetic consumption.
The structure's design tries to mitigate the sensation of feeling lost and away from home so typical of hospitals; rather it tries to build a working and healing place where proximity between people and spaces is encouraged. This is a philosophy that aims to create a cosy space where patients can feel as fully-fledged “subjects” with a right to an often missing respect, rather than mere “objects” of care. Above all these details are aimed at highlighting the fundamental values of caring and preserving life.
The Salam Centre structure includes different buildings: the HOSPITAL blocks; an administration area; a technical and service area; a GUEST-HOUSE for relatives of patients coming from outside Khartoum; a MEDITATION PAVILION for patients of all creeds and religions; a MEDICAL COMPOUND made of container-houses.
In designing the hospital it was important to imagine a “face” that could best represent the philosophy that underpins it. Every detail of the building is aimed at making patients and staff feel at home.
Above all, they are aimed at highlighting the fundamental values of caring and preserving life. The details of the building are therefore the “face“ that represents these values. Residing in the hospital will make the patients, and other observers, of any sex, race, colour or belief come together under the common roof of fundamental values such as cohabitation and hospitability.
The average temperature in the Sudan is 29°C, and in the hottest months it can reach 45°C. In order to cool down the hospital, a number of measures were taken during construction. In addition to this, air conditioners were usually installed after the building was constructed. This traditional cooling system would have implied high levels of electrical energy or fossil fuel consumption (the needs in terms of volumes of air to be cooled down are hefty: 28 000 m3).
In a country rich in oil resources, Emergency has sought out alternative sources of clean energy: the sun.
Nine containers left Italy for Khartoum with 300 solar panels, bringing to the country an almost unknown technology, and one that is very seldom used in Europe.
Temperatures in Sudan often exceed 40°C for long periods of time, often reaching and exceeding 50°C. It is this aspect of the Sudanese climate together with the presence of fine dust generated by the strong desert winds that has led to an in-depth study of the right type of insulation, cooling and filtering technologies. These technologies allow to reduce the energy consumption levels of the hospital while at the same time guaranteeing maximum levels of comfort. Based on the principle of passive mitigation, one of the first measures taken was that of building a highly performing wall made of two layers of bricks separated by an insulating air cavity, with small windows. These windows are closed by highly performing glass panels with low emissions.
Shrubs and trees were also used to protect the buildings from the heat and to mitigate the effects of the harsh climate. Also important from a practical and aesthetic point of view was the use of traditionally crafted thatched roofs for paths and areas for rest. This was derived from a traditional technique for bed-making.
The use of the above-mentioned measures has greatly reduced the need to rely on energy-consuming cooling technologies. It means a more efficient use of locally available resources such as Nile water and solar power. The latter, collected by 1000 sq meters of solar panels, is thus used more efficiently to cool the large quantities of air needed for the entire building.