But the radical hospital redesigns are beginning to receive plaudits. Butaro Hospital was a finalist for the 2011 World Architecture Festival Awards in Barcelona. The hospital was also named Acute Care Facility of the Year by the trade magazine Contract, and in January this year, the magazine also named MASS Design its 2012 Designer of the Year.
Murphy admitted the commercial market for architects in developing world hospitals is small, but added that the potential for impact was “fantastic – and humbling”. One MASS Design architect, Sierra Bainbridge, returned to the US in December after living on site in Rwanda for two years, in a process Murphy calls “immersive design”. During her tour, Bainbridge also launched Rwanda's first school of architecture. Murphy said that the country's first class of 25 architecture students were due to graduate this year – all of them trained in the principles of design for infection control.
All of which will be good news to Pamela Richards. As a South African government health official, she witnessed the lethal TB outbreak at the Church of Scotland Hospital in 2005. “I have never been so upset in my life,” she recalls.
For her, the new movement to rethink hospitals means one thing: “It’s hope.”