The night I met Rossella, she asked me and the awestruck audience around me a bold question: “What do you think hospitals in a war-torn country should look like?”
We were at the 2013 Curry Stone Design Prize ceremony in San Francisco, and she was testing our basic assumptions on who deserves what and why. When quality treatment becomes directly related to what you can afford, we forget that high quality healthcare should be a standard, not an exception reserved for the entitled few.
Rossella’s answer transformed any preconceived notions of healthcare by introducing us to a utopia in one of the poorest places on earth. As Rossella showed us images of EMERGENCY’s Salam Center in Sudan, she reminded us that dignified healthcare is a basic human right.
Rossella came to San Francisco from Italy that night to accept one of three 2013 Curry Stone Design Prize awards on behalf of EMERGENCY, an international NGO that builds “scandalously beautiful” hospitals in war-zones. Together with Raul from TAMassociati, the consortium of architects that designed several of EMERGENCY’s health-care facilities, they received one of the most recognized social impact design awards for building facilities that have exceeded Western standards while respecting local traditions. The result over a decade-long collaboration are five hospitals in Africa that have treated more than 700,000 patients and seven clinics in Italy that provide healthcare to refugees. In addition to a no-strings-attached grant, the Curry Stone Foundation produced a short documentary film with the hopes of spreading the word about EMERGENCY’s groundbreaking practices.
“The 2013 Curry Stone Design Prize winners illustrate how to address some of the most dramatic challenges of our times: building sustainable habitats for low-income communities, designing affordable products for rural families, and providing health care in war-torn countries,” said Emiliano Gandolfi, Prize Secretary. “Each of these practices brings forward valid design tools, strategies, and inspiration to face current world inequalities.”
The Curry Stone Foundation believes that design can be powerful in bringing meaningful change, and a common thread throughout the Curry Stone winners is the basic premise that user-centric design is an acknowledgment of human dignity. As Rossella explained,“We don’t treat the injured as patients, but guests.” In that manner, EMERGENCY is honoring their dignity, and in partnership with TAM, they are addressing with full force architecture’s next great challenge: building the community that’s in between the walls, regardless of socioeconomic status.
Raul wrote on the project: “To build an outstanding hospital in the heart of Africa has meaning. For us it was an extraordinary opportunity to reflect on the profound sense of the word right…”
EMERGENCY and TAM’s principles created hospitals that are welcoming and beautiful in a unique way that acknowledges the human dignity of its patients, who often for the first time, as victims of war and poverty, are able to feel what it’s like to receive treatment that respects their fundamental rights.
Thank you, Rossella, Raul and Curry Stone for a wonderful, mind-stretching night.
Media on the 2013 Curry Stone Design Prize:
“The annual prize, in its sixth year, will divide $120,000 equally among the honorees, chosen for their use of design as a force for improving lives and strengthening communities.”
“The team has redefined health care by showing how a hospital can become a cultural lifeline and health can be a bridge for peace.”
“This partnership between a consortium of Italian architects and an international medical NGO brings free, high quality healthcare and educational facilities to war-torn areas.”
- StudioTAMassociati & Emergency in “Best of 2013: The Top 10 Public Interest Design Videos” on GOOD
- Curry Stone Profiles Studio TAM & Emergency in Public Interest Design, a blog about a growing movement at the intersection of design and service
- 2013 Curry Stone Design Prize Winners Announced in Bustler, the sister site to the leading architecture platform, Archinect
- Curry Stone Winners Strive for Small, Local Solutions in Architectural Record, a monthly magazine dedicated to architecture and interior design
Willie is serving at EMERGENCY USA as part of New Sector’s
2013-14 Residency in Social Enterprise.