GHESKIO Cholera Treatment Center

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Can a building help resist an epidemic?

Cholera—a curable, preventable disease that had not previously existed in Haiti, emerged in 2010 after contaminated waste from a peacekeeping force leaked into the Artibonite river, resulting in rapid spread. When the disease broke, Port-au-Prince’s only waste-filtration plant remained closed following the earthquake and access to clean water and waste treatment programs was limited.

Along with hundreds of health care 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. Pape asked MASS to help create a permanent cholera center. His request was simple and revolutionary: could the center treat patients with dignity and address 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 brings in natural daylight and diverts rainwater that is then stored in underground cisterns, treated, and then used in showers and sinks. The facility decontaminates waste using a leaching field combined with anaerobic baffled reactor technology. The CTC 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 optimized to for daylighting, ventilation, and privacy. Because of the need for routine sterilization, all materials were chosen for their durability and infection-resistant properties.

While cholera persists in Haiti today, there has been progress. However, due to the temporary nature of the majority of facilities, as well as funding for them, GHESKIO’s cholera treatment center is one of the only remaining active facilities and now serves the majority of the city of Port-au-Prince.

Project Details

18.594395, -72.307433

Location: Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Year: 2015

Status: Completed

Size: 693 sq. m.

Program: Cholera Treatment Center

Services: Architectural Design, Construction Administration, On-Site Training, Expanded Construction Administration

Les Centres GHESKIO

Mazzetti (MEP)
Fall Creek Engineering (Civil)
Nathan King + Virginia Tech Center for Design Research