If you have ever been inside the maternity or pediatric units of any hospital in the U.S. or Europe or almost all large cities worldwide, you have seen conditions that, if not necessarily luxurious, were adequate. But in Tambacounda Hospital — one of the largest hospitals in Africa—four newborn babies spend day and night squeezed next to each other on a single table, three feet by two, protected from falling only by modest safety rails. Used syringes cover the floor. For expectant mothers there is no privacy, no space, and no sense of security. Even with exceptional doctors and nurses, the conditions simply aren’t good enough to allow for the best care.

Last year, the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation sponsored an architectural competition for what is openly a low-budget project to be realized in rugged conditions with local construction teams and using as many indigenous materials as possible. The winner, Manuel Herz, has now made repeated trips to Tambacounda, listened carefully to the devoted hospital staff, and met with local authorities and builders. The new building will provide 1800 square meters of splendid hospital space, everything new and sanitary and comfortable.