Panzi Hospital

A new mother-baby unit is planned to reduce maternal and post-natal mortality rate at world-renowned Panzi Hospital. It will support positive birth experiences for the women of Bukavu and improve the working conditions for the hospital’s dedicated staff.

Healing architecture

With up to 3,500 childbirths per year, the maternal and neonatal ward at Panzi Hospital is a central part of the operations. Due to the poor conditions of the existing structures and the shortage of beds, staff cannot provide the level of care level that they aspire to. A masterplan and feasibility study for the new unit has been developed in pro bono collaboration with Panzi Hospital and Göteborgs universitet, intended to replace an existing building which suffers from insufficient sanitation, poor logistical arrangements and no facilities for family members to stay.

Panzi Hospital is run by human rights defender, Dr Denis Mukwege, reciever of the Nobel Peace Prize 2018 and the Sakharov Prize winner 2014

Client: Panzi Hospital
Location: Bukavu, Democratic republic of Congo
Status: Feasibility study 2017
Visuals: White View

All women should receive quality care throughout pregnancy, labour, birth and beyond. This new facility will holistically promote the health of women and children throughout their maternity and early years.
Dr Denis Mukwege, Founder, Panzi Hospital

The new hospital is designed to be easily navigable, prioritising daylight, privacy and views out to nature to support the healing process. Each unit has private access to green courtyards for rehabilitation, recreation and social activities. Buildings are reached from a large entrance square via internal pathways. The design consists of two distinct components: a one-storey intensive care block housing a labour ward and neonatal unit, and a series of seven two-storey modular pavilions containing post-natal patient rooms and outpatient functions.

Designing with empathy

A redesign of the patient rooms in the new unit was a top priority. There is a universal need for integrity and a level of privacy for both patients and their family. Currently, mothers often have to share rooms with other mothers and their babies, causing psychological distress. As such, the new patient wards have been planned as small units of 8-16 patients, with patient rooms containing one or two beds. The units vary in size, allowing relatives to support patients during their stay.



The designed supports the person-centred, holistic care model, promoting patients’ security and wellbeing and creating well-functioning spaces for family and staff

A unique aspect of this project was the close collaboration between Panzi hospital, White Arkitekter and Göteborgs universitet to create optimal, research-based and human-centered care that is adapted to local needs.
Professor Marie Berg, Centre for Person-Centred Care (GPCC), Göteborgs universitet

Climate control

Climate and resource efficiency are huge considerations for Panzi. The design was shaped by extensive primary research into local conditions. For example, the simple modular building forms are designed for minimal upkeep as well as to withstand earthquakes, while materials are locally sourced wherever possible. Research findings showed that while the amount of sunshine received by the existing buildings is adequate, directing daylight into the building is a huge problem. To address this, external louvres are applied to provide shade from the heat of the sun, while allowing natural light into the corridors.


Heavy monsoon periods produce excessive moisture in the walls and uncomfortably damp interiors. The roof plays a special role in climate control; designed for optimising electricity and water supply, its bioclimatic design with deep overhangs prevent water from penetrating the wall construction. This also improves the interior environments; rooms become cooler during the day, while remaining comfortably warm at night.

The architecture of the new mother and baby unit is characterised by a beautiful simplicity and material integrity

Be part of the solution

Survivors of rape and the ravages of war deserve dignity, justice and care. For less than the cost of a meal, you can help the Panzi Foundation provide critical front-line support for survivors of sexual violence. Click here to become part of the solution.

Once completed, Panzi’s new unit will serve as a blueprint for maternity and postnatal healthcare facilities in similar circumstances in the Democratic Republic of Congo and beyond. The project enters its next phase in 2019 in collaboration with local architects and partners.

Read more about the project in our comprehensive report

Contact & Team

Cristiana Caira

Cristiana Caira



[email protected]

+46 31 60 87 77

Carl Molin
Saga Karlsson
Johan Lundin
Agnes Orstadius
Ioannis Anagnostopoulos
Maria Glädt
Tania Sande Beiro
Alejandro Pacheco Diéguez
Marie-Claude Dubois
Rikard Sjöberg
Samuel Michaëlsson