So why this big negative focus on one of the world’s most celebrated starchitects, David Adjaye? He is Ghanaian and his firm, Adjaye Associates, is Ghanaian, with offices also in London and New York. He has not been engaged to design 101 or 111 hospitals. No! He designed just one and did a damn good job of it; which should give us a bargain of “buy 1 get 1 free!”
He was legally contracted as lead architect to design one standard district hospital and his task was to do so at a record low price with a significant use of local materials, to be environmentally friendly and to do all this at a high quality standard. This is what we are paying for.
Government first procured the services of Hospital Infrastructure Group Ltd, owned by the highly respected Kwabena Nyarko, former Vice President of GREDA, to coordinate the single largest health infrastructure project ever commissioned in Ghana, the Agenda 111 project, working closely with the Ministry of Health.
HIG engaged the services of some key architects, engineers, surveyors, etc, to deliver on this important mandate. HIG’s job is to let all the district hospitals be designed and built by Ghanaians, using as much as possible local materials, and to do so at a cost far lower than we are used to paying.
David Adjaye’s Adjaye Associates was just one of such reputable firms used. His specific design job was to come out with a standard design for a district hospital. He has delivered a world class standard design and at $17 million per hospital. A district hospital normally costs between $30-35 million, built and fitted. So the ones under Agenda 111 is essentially: “Buy 1 Get 1 Free!”
Sadly, we have chosen not to celebrate the fact that we are getting over 5 million people in 101 districts to be served with 101 hospitals at a price that would have provided about 50 hospitals serving 50% fewer. Sir David only designed one standard district hospital! His job is not to build them!
Another Ghanaian firm, Sutherland & Sutherland Architects, designed the new Accra Psychiatric Hospital. Which means that once done we will finally have a decent, modern, well-equipped, friendly to visit psychiatric hospital in the heart of the capital city.
Another Ghanaian firm, Victor Randolph, did the standard specialist psychiatric hospital. Which means that once done if you live in the middle belt or in the North, you don’t have to come to Accra for a specialised mental care any longer.
Another team of Ghanaian architects were tasked to design the standard regional hospital, which will serve the six new regions. Photos of the various designs by the various architects are attached to this post.
There are 8 other Ghanaian consultancy firms, whose services have also been procured through PPA, to supervise zonally the execution of all the 101 district hospitals across the country.
So what has been the crime of Sir David? His design does not use the antiquated materials of cement block and mortar for the hospitals. It is interlocking earth bricks system, using local laterite from the respective regions. This has helped to bring down the cost. It also means, building with speed. He is using locally insulated roofing sheets. His design allows for natural ventilation. It shows how we can build better, cheaper and relying more on locally produced materials.
Mark this down. I foresee other African countries modelling their hospitals and schools from the designs, technology, materials and engineering that have gone into Agenda 111. We are doing something that, in my view, will set the standards for providing healthcare facilities for Africa and beyond. For me, we have something to be proud of and let’s help it succeed. We may or may not celebrate the team making it happen, but let us not malign them. It can be demoralising.
This team, including Adjaye Associates, worked under HIG and closely with the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders to develop the brief as well as the designs and technical details for the various hospital types (District, Psychiatric and Regional) which have been approved by the Ministry of Health.
In all, over 20 Ghanaian Architectural and Engineering Consulting firms and 300 Ghanaian built-industry professionals are participating in the delivery of Agenda 111.