Mobile Medical Center
South Africa
Architecture for Humanity Founder's Award winner

Architecture for Humanity is a non-profit organization founded in 1999 by British architect Cameron Sinclair to respond to humanitarian and social crises with architectural and design solutions. The first competition addressed the issue of temporary housing for refugees in Kosovo (1999-2000); the theme of the second competition, called "Outreach", was the design of a fully equipped mobile medical unit for the prevention and treatment of AIDS (2001-2004). Four architects' projects were selected from among the 532 proposals sent in from 51 different countries: those of the Danish studio Khras Architects, students at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy (NY), members of the department of climatic architecture at the University of Dortmund in Germany, and the Founders' Prize was specially awarded to Gaston Tolila and Nicholas Gilliland (born in 1974 and 1978). The winning teams were then brought together in March 2004 for a workshop at the African Centre for Population and Health Studies at the Nelson Mandela School of Medicine in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa.
The clinic project skillfully combines architectural aspects (two barns made from raw earth, a metal structure with posts, cables and a removable net) and design applications such as the removable textile membranes that organize the ten successive activity spaces. The barn(s), built by the villagers, remain in place to be used for the storage of medicines, while the other elements are installed and then dismantled, before being transported by van by the medical team.
Gaston Tolila and Nicholas Gilliland have done extensive work on the context of the clinic's location. Such a building blends into the landscape like a tent. The villagers appropriate the place by bringing printed textile panels to place on the slopes of the structure in the shade of which they can sit, converse or wait. The objective of the two architects is to fight against the stigmatization of people living with HIV.

South Africa

Mobile medical center

International competition 2006

Architecture for Humanity


1.120 m²

Thanks to: Architecture for Humanity; ARUP South Africa; Dr. Shafiq Essajee, Director, AIDS Research and Family Care Clinic, Mombasa, Kenya; The Africa Center & the Nelson Mandela School of Medicine Kwazulu Natal, South Africa.